Trent L. Miller (Actor/Advocate)
"Significant discrimination existed in getting British Overseas Territory & British Citizenship..."
Trent L. Miller's ('Silcott') Story
Update 6 July 2021:
The Nationality & Borders Act 2022 has remedied the discrimination against people like Trent and others like him.
An example of one of these children, now an adult, is American-born Actor/Advocate Trent Lamont Miller ('Silcott.'). In 2010, he researched if he could claim British & British Overseas Territories citizenship, by descent, through his father, Abraham. Trent's father was born in 1942 in the former British colony, now a British overseas territory called Montserrat. Trent's grandparents were also born on the British island.
In the 1960s, Trent's father lived and worked in London before temporarily moving to the USA to study. Due to law changes in the early 1970s, Trent's father found that he no longer enjoyed the right of abode in the U.K and was forced to remain in the USA. Trent has half-siblings living in London and half-siblings living in the USA. Trent's connection to the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat and the mainland U.K. is strong and long-standing based on family connections.
Trent is 'shut out' from his right to claim British & British Overseas Territory citizenship by descent via his father simply because Trent's father could not marry his American mother. However, his half-siblings living in the USA can make a claim because his father did marry their mother. The result is: that family members are treated differently under British nationality law, which results in divided families. This situation is grossly unfair.
British nationality law is discriminatory & divides families. The UK and Montserrat treat Trent as a visitor, not a person who has the right to belong. It impacts his culture and identity; he feels denied and deprived through no fault of his own.
This issue of the denial of British & British-overseas-territories citizenship by-descent came to the public spotlight in 2009 after a campaign by Tabitha Sprague of a group called U.K. Citizenship Equality Campaign. In 2014, she got the British Nationality Act 1981 amended to allow illegitimate children, now adults, born to U.K. mainland fathers ONLY to have a retrospective right to register for citizenship. In Tabitha's case, her father was a British mainland-born, and her mother, an American.
The late Lord Eric Avebury, and former British M.P. Julian Huppert, helped change the British Nationality Act 1981 ('BNA') through Section 65 of the Immigration Act of 2014 as it made its way through the House of Lords. Amendments made provided for the first time the ability for people like Tabitha to register their births retrospectively and then apply for British nationality & citizenship by descent based on her unmarried father.
However, there was one significant omission. These amendments did not include all the "just as British & deserving" illegitimately born children of British Overseas Territories born fathers, like Trent. The excuse was given by the British government's Home Office Minister at the time, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, during the final stages of the debate, to Human Rights Peer Advocate, the late Lord Eric Avebury was:
"I know that my noble friend is also concerned about British Overseas Territories citizens. Changes to those provisions require consultation with the territories concerned, which has not been possible in the time available. However, I assure my noble friend that the government will look for suitable opportunities to discuss this issue with the overseas territories once the provisions are implemented."
We have an unequal position in British nationality law. Had we been included in the amendments, the law would be fairer for ALL children born out of wedlock. This failure to include us treats us as "less than" regarding our rights to inherit our father's citizenship.
During the course of our campaign, we also became aware that children born abroad to British Overseas Territories Mothers before 1 January 1983 are also denied a route to claim their unmarried mothers' British & British Overseas Territories citizenship by descent. Please see Shelley’s story in the ‘Blog & News’ tab.
Depends on the year of your birth, where you are born, if your parents are married or not dictates if you qualify. Here are examples of when the same categories of children qualify, which makes the law unequal:
Discrimination does not apply if your child is born after 1 July 2006. The parent’s marital status is irrelevant.
Discrimination does not apply if your child is born abroad to a British Overseas Territories citizen Mother after 1 January 1983
British nationality law, which dictates the treatment of British Overseas Territories children of descent, needs to be urgently amended to make it fair to all children born out of wedlock.
It's been six long years since Lord Taylor's statement to the now-late Lord Eric Avebury. The mantle for the campaign has been taken-up by Baroness Ruth Lister of Burtersett. She tirelessly advocates and pressures the Home Office to bring forth primary legislation to fix this unequal situation.
We understand consultation has taken place between the Home Office and respective British Overseas Territories governments. The issue is now subject to an informal engagement process with key-nationality stakeholders in the U.K. legal world. The British government has been slow to bring forth a bill. There is no reason to delay this. The urgent need for action has been raised in many written questions to the Home Office and discussed in two parliamentary reports:
We are tired of being treated as "less-than" & made to feel like "strangers & visitors to our fathers' homelands." The lack of official recognition prevents us from fully assimilating into our fathers' rich cultural roots. We demand a right to 'official recognition and acknowledgment' to have a complete family life.
Key points to remember:
We have every right to have our father's and mother's British citizenship by descent
Our campaign is all about “Reuniting Families."
No illegitimate child should ever be made to be less than and cast-out
We recognize there is still much work to be done for other children of Chaggosian descent
For us, at the end of the day, 'British Fair Play’ came through
We all have a right to live in a fairer and equal world