Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Guardian's Liberty Clinic - query about British citizenship

From the Guardian's Liberty Clinic How can I be discriminated against because of my mother's gender? The actual question was: "How can the the Borders, Immigration & Citizenship Bill - with its gender and age discrimination - be legal?" The answer from Emma Norton, a legal officer at Liberty, is quite disappointing and not very helpful or encouraging. And she had the gall to brag about how "Liberty welcomed this change in the law which removed this historic discrimination against those who wished to claim citizenship through their mother." The law has been amended but the discrimination has not been removed! We (the children born abroad to British mothers) finally are eligible to apply for British citizenship but it means we "have a right to register as a British citizen" and we have to pay £540 , and attend a citizenship ceremony before we can claim our British citizenship by descent! Liberty is also known as the National Council for Civil Liberties. Founded in 1934, we are a cross party, non-party membership organisation at the heart of the movement for fundamental rights and freedoms in England and Wales. We promote the values of individual human dignity, equal treatment and fairness as the foundations of a democratic society. Well, I certainly don't consider this very unfair path to citizenship with its conditions (registration, fee and ceremony) to be equal treatment or fair! The comments following Ms Norton's reply are very interesting. I suggest everyone reads the comments if they want to understand exactly why this issue of inequality regarding British citizenship is so very unfair. The MPs are guilty of passing a blatantly discriminatory Bill for passage into law. They should all be very ashamed.


  1. I thought the Guardian answer, *much* more in depth and nuanced than you report here, was actually quite sensible. Is the new bill a perfect solution? No. But it gives you the right to citizenship, something you should have the right to. The fee is annoying, but it's still a much easier route to citizenship than someone who is new to the UK and not born to a British mother OR father.

  2. Anonymous, I wonder who you are? I bet you aren't one of the children born abroad to British mothers who are affected by this discriminatory law!

    You may think "the Guardian answer, *much* more in depth and nuanced than [I] report here, was actually quite sensible." but she didn't really address why there is the inequality and her reply to the query wasn't as relevant as it should have been. For instance, she repeated a lot of what she told the person the previous week about unmarried British fathers.

    Is the new Bill (The Borders Immigration and Citizenship Act 2009) which is law now a perfect solution? Certainly not! It doesn't give me the right to citizenship - it gives me the right to *apply* for citizenship via registration. That's a whole different thing!

    The fee is more than just annoying, it's very unfair and is blatant discrimination!

    It is NOT a *much* easier route to citizenship than someone who is new to the UK without a British mother or father. It's only slightly different and I think it's an insult to our British mothers that they can't pass on their citizenship the same way British fathers can.

  3. I've just read the article and comments which make for interesting reading.
    As you know I agree wholeheartedly on this matter and sympathise with you.
    It was a Bill, that like so many nowadays, that was clearly botched.
    I doubt if many of the present MP's feel much shame about anything judging by their antics in the past few years! Flighty xx

  4. Hi Flighty, Thank you for taking the time to read the article and all the comments too. I appreciate your support and sharing your supportive comments on my blog as well.

    Yes, as you say the Bill was botched. It really should have been a separate Citizenship Bill instead of being lumped in with Borders and Immigration. I don't think all the MPs really understood the ramificactions of what they did by passing the Bill. It's hard to believe every single one of them would support discrimination but then perhaps they actually do. I admit that I don't have a lot of respect for most MPs after the MPs expenses scandal. As you point out, it's doubtful if many of the present MPs feel much shame about anything.

  5. The root of this discrimination lies in the British Nationality Act 1948 which made no provision for the transmission of citizenship in the female line, even in cases of statelessness.

    In 1948 few women had jobs which took them abroad, few women had children outside of marriage, and few women would have disagreed with the statement "the man is the head of the house".

    The United States has allowed women to transmit their citizenship to children born abroad in the same way as men since 1934. Why it took until 1983 for the United Kingdom to follow suit is a mystery, but may be related to its relatively small size and large population.

    Perhaps a private member's bill could be introduced which would scrap the registration fee, the good character requirement and the citizenship ceremony.

  6. Thank you for providing very interestng information and the suggestion that a private member's bill could perhaps be introduced to scrap the registration fee, the good character requirement and the citizenship ceremony. That is precisely what needs to be done to correct this unjust law!

  7. There is no mention of a fee in any of the legislation! The fee is EXCLUSIVELY a political decision as to if there is a fee and how much the fee is. It is decided at cabinet level between the Home Secretary, currently Theresa May and the Chancellor, George Osborne.
    He sets how much her dept has to spend and has to generage in income and then she decides what is charged and how much, etc.
    IF labour or a Lib-lab govt had retained control of the government, the fee's were due to be scrapped in the march/april 2011.
    But this Con-dem Coalition, well I have not had any promises of elimination and have had indicators that this govt plans to increase all fee's (including UKM) to close the door in a back handed way to any more souls on sacred english soil! They already put a 25k cap on non-eu immigration and would put a cap on eu if they could. So welcome to the new coalition Britian, no longer the shop keepers to the world but the new sweat shop workers of the world...