LONDON: The far-right British National Party has agreed to change its constitution so that would-be members are not discriminated against on the grounds of race or religion.The party was forced into the move after Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission issued legal proceedings against it in August, claiming its membership criteria unlawfully excluded certain groups.Counsel for the commission, Robin Allen, QC, said the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, had agreed to present party members with a revised constitution at its general meeting next month.The party had agreed not to accept any new members until the new constitution was in place, Mr Allen said.In an order issued at Central London County Court on Thursday, the BNP agreed to use ”all reasonable endeavours” to revise its constitution so it did not discriminate on what the Equality Act terms ”protected characteristics”, including race, gender and religious belief.The commission, which has a statutory duty to enforce the act and prevent discrimination, made its concerns known to the BNP earlier this year.In a letter sent in June the commission pointed out that the party’s constitution and membership criteria – which appear to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regards as particular ”ethnic groups” and those whose skin colour is white – were contrary to the Race Relations Act.The commission’s legal group director, John Wadham, said the commission was pleased that the BNP had ”conceded the case” and agreed to all its requirements.”Political parties, like any other organisation, are obliged to respect the law and not discriminate against people,” Mr Wadham said.”We will be monitoring the BNP’s compliance with this court order on membership, and its other legal obligations, including to its constituents.”The party’s eastern regional spokesman, Chris Roberts, said it was too early to say how the proposed rule change would affect its membership, and accused mainstream political parties of stirring up trouble.Guardian News & Media
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