Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Manning: US/UK dual nationality (British citizenship inequality)

This article in the Guardian was brought to my attention yesterday via twitter:

Bradley Manning is UK citizen and needs protection, government told
Amnesty International asks government to intervene on behalf of soldier suspected of having passed US secrets to WikiLeaks

The article explains:
Manning is a UK citizen by descent from his Welsh mother.Susan Bradley was born in Oklahoma in 1987.

Further explanation about the nationality issue from the article:
Born in the US, he is a US citizen. But under the British Nationality Act of 1981, anyone born outside the UK after 1 January 1983 who has a mother who is a UK citizen by birth is British by descent.

"Nationality is like an elastic band: it stretches to one generation born outside the UK to a British parent," said Alison Harvey, head of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association in London.

Now, I realize the issue about how Manning is being treated in a maximum security military prison is a valid concern, and I can see why this news about his nationality has become a talking point, but for me personally, it has fueled my anger about British citizenship inequality.

I was born in the USA to a British mother but I can't claim automatic British citizenship by descent because I was born before 1983.

British citizenship for those of us born before 1983 to British mothers requires registration (application which can be denied) and attending a citizenship ceremony. Frankly, I find the application to be insulting. It requires two references to confirm "good character" for goodness sake!

It’s disgraceful that we must submit a form intended for immigrants and pay £80 for a citizenship ceremony. The registration form and ceremony are for those without a British parent. This path to citizenship is an insult and unjustified discrimination!

I have a right to automatic British citizenship which I'm entitled to via my British mum.


  1. I doubt his British Citizenship will do him any good. Playing the "Brit card" is a long shot and doesn't have a good track record.

    Why he didn't contact the British Embassy is a mystery. Perhap he doesn't realize that he can claim British Citizenship from his mother or perhaps he realizes that there is very little the British Government can do, being that he is being held in the country of his other nationality.

    ILPA should have said that citizenship is like a rubber band, except in cases where you were born outside of the UK before 1983 and the sex of your one and only British Citizen parent was female.

  2. I wonder if the fact that he's in the US military has affected his claim to British nationality?

    I still maintain that it's grossly unfair that the UK has decided to deny the right to automatic British citizenship to those of us born outside the UK before 1983 to British mothers. It's unjustified discrimination.

    1. It is blatant discrimination. It is particularly galling to me because I was born in Canada where the Queen is the Head of State. This needs to be changed now!