Hackney charity helps bring about ‘first Parliament debate’ on Chinese and East and Southeast Asian racism

Houses of Parliament in Westminster; Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Houses of Parliament in Westminster; Tim Ireland/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A Hackney charity helped to bring about the first Parliament debate on Chinese and East and Southeast Asian communities’ ongoing experiences of racism during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Luton North MP Sarah Owen, who tabled the hour-long discussion on October 13, said it was the first Parliamentary debate specifically addressing racism against these communities.

Hackney Chinese Community Services (HCCS) was one of seven co-signatories of the briefing paper for the debate, which was produced by Protection Approaches, a charity working to tackle all forms of identity-based violence.

READ MORE: Hackney charity produces leaflet to address spike in racism amid Covid-19 pandemicMs Owen introduced the discussion by identifying the sharp increase in racist incidents, pointing out hate crime towards these groups has trebled since the coronavirus outbreak.

Although recognising racism is not a new issue, she said the far-right has “wrongly been given the legitimacy to air their division, violence and hatred” during the pandemic.

She said there were 261 recorded hate crimes against Chinese and East and Southeast Asian communities in April, 323 in May and 395 in June, identifying the figures rose each time the lockdown measures eased.

This year also saw the highest numbers of recorded hate crime against protected groups, 40 per cent higher than after the 7/7 terrorist attack.

She said social media has allowed racist conspiracy theories to spread, and the mainstream media has “added fuel to the fire”, with 33pc of images used to report Covid using people of East-Asian descent.

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Owen called for a clear statement from ministers to condemn anti-Asian and anti-Chinese racism.

MP for Enfield, Southgate, Bambos Charalambous, said “more needs to be done to dismantle the micro-targeting of ads and the algorithms that recommend the next piece of visible content” compounding the effects of online hate speech and fake news, and called for “wider regulation of social media platforms to tackle hate speech and its wider distribution”.

Glasgow East MP David Linden urged the UK government to acknowledge its history of racism, while Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West called for more Chinese representation in the media.

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