17/02/2020 17:03 GMT

Pregnant Bangladeshi-Heritage MP Claims She Was Told Asians Are More Likely To Abort Baby Girls

Tulip Siddiq revealed the comments to her from a fellow MP as part of an ITV News investigation which revealed the scale of racism faced by BAME politicians.

Nicola Tree via Getty Images
Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq at the registration of her daughters birth at Camden town hall

A pregnant MP was told by a colleague they thought Asian people were more likely to abort baby girls, an investigation into racism in parliament has found.

Tulip Siddiq, who is of Bangladeshi-heritage, told a fellow MP in the Commons she was pregnant.

But she said the MP expressed surprise that doctors had told her the sex of her baby.

“Speaking to a colleague of a mine, she looked at me in astonishment and said you know you’re having a girl because normally they don’t tell people of Asian origin they’re having a girl because you know, then Asian people decide,” Siddiq told ITV News.

She added: “I looked at her and I couldn’t believe what she was saying.”

Siddiq was also told when she was running to become the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn that she should use her husband’s English surname as “people wouldn’t vote for ‘Tulip Siddiq’.”

The revelation came as part of an ITV News survey of black and minority ethnic (BAME) MPs.

It found that more than half (51%) had experienced racism or racial profiling from colleagues.

The figure rose to 62% when including incidents of racism or racial profiling across the parliamentary estate, where thousands of staffers, security, police, journalists and contractors work.

An overwhelming majority (92%) said they found it more difficult to become an MP because of their ethnicity, while 83% said it had made their work more difficult.

Four in five of the MPs (81%) also said they had experienced racism from the public.

In total, 37 of the 65 BAME MPs, including Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians, responded to the survey.


A police officer came to physically escort me out of the member’s tea room even though he was told I was a member of parliament

Shadow equalities secretary Dawn Butler said she was once escorted out of a room in parliament by security.  

“A police officer came to physically escort me out of the member’s tea room even though he was told I was a member of parliament,” she said. 

“He later sent me a written apology.”

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Labour MP Naz Shah said: “You battled your way here (to parliament), broken the glass ceiling, you’re actually here where there’s going to be equality, where we can advocate equality for the whole of the country and that’s what we’re supposed to be doing.

“But actually we’re landing somewhere we don’t have that equality. 

“Even if you look at the last few weeks with the select committees, twenty select committees not one BAME MP was made chair.”

One MP, speaking anonymously, said they had been spat at in the street due to their religious beliefs, while others mentioned racist comments on the doorstep, death threats, racist letters and emails.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, who is of Palestinian descent, said: “Whenever I mention anything to do with my background or ethnicity that comes back and you immediately get that torrent of people who want to tear you down. 

“The comments about going home come to me a lot. It is really hurtful and horrible. You learn to wear an armoured jacket so you don’t listen to it. I’ve got as much right to be here as anyone else.”

Labour MP Afzal Khan said: “You get loads of tweets saying you’re drumming on about Muslims. ‘There is a simple solution, go back to Pakistan’.

He went on: “There is a license now to challenge people’s right to be here.  

“For over 50-plus years I’ve been here (in the UK), this is my country, everything I have, everything I want to give back is to this country.”

A House of Commons spokesperson told ITV News: “It is unacceptable that some MPs have experienced racism, and we are particularly concerned to hear of instances occurring on the parliamentary estate.

 “We are committed to taking any necessary steps to ensure this does not happen in future.”