U.K.'s BNP to Allow Nonwhite Members
The Associated Press, October 15, 2009
London (AP) — The far-right British National Party agreed Thursday to change its constitution to let nonwhite people become members.
A government-backed rights body had taken the anti-immigration party to court, claiming the BNP's constitution is discriminatory.
At a court hearing Thursday, a lawyer for the party said leader Nick Griffin would ask members next month to change the constitution so it didn't discriminate on the grounds of race or religion.
In an order issued at the Central London County Court, the BNP agreed to use 'all reasonable endeavors' to revise its constitution to comply with the Equality Bill, which bans discrimination on the grounds of race, gender or religious belief.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which brought the case, said it would be watching to see whether the BNP complied. 'Political parties, like any other organization, are obliged to respect the law and not discriminate against people,' said the commission's John Wadham.
The BNP has recently sought to shed its extreme image and enter the political mainstream. The party in June won two seats in the European Parliament — its first electoral success. With recession in full swing, the BNP was able to tap into fears of unemployment and unease about years of large-scale immigration.
Richard Barnbrook, the party's representative on the London Assembly, said he believed members would vote to change the constitution, because 'trying to fight this court case would bankrupt the party and we have more important issues to deal with, including elections.'