History of Race Equality within the party
The late Lord Avebury was the pioneer who set up the first ever race and community relations panel in the Liberal Party. This was around 1970, well before the merger of the Liberals with the Social Democrats in 1988. Navnit Dholakia acted as its secretary. The Panel produced a number of policy documents and arranged fringe meetings at Party Conferences. It was also responsible for race audits of policy documents.
Zerbanoo Gifford took over from Lord Avebury in the 1980s. In 1980 she was elected a councillor for Harrow, the first female Asian councillor to be elected for the Liberal Party. In 1986 she chaired the Liberal "Commission of Inquiry into Ethnic Minority Involvement" in the party.
in 1992, Ramesh Dewan established Asian Liberal Democrats. The name was changed a few years later to become Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats or EMLD for short.
In 2001 when Lord Dholakia was President of the Party (1999-2002), he together with others such as Cllr Rabi Martins set up another entity known as Ethnic Minority Election Task Force (EMETF) to focus on the election of Parliamentary candidates of minority background. Steve Bradford a researcher in the Home Affairs team produced an action paper which was approved by the Party. In 2004 Parmjit Singh Gill was elected in the Leicester South by-election and Sajjid Karim as a LibDem MEP for North West England.
Nasser Butt and Fiyaz Mughal were the subsequent Chairmen of EMLD between 2001-2004 and 2004-2008 respectively. Fiyaz was a Councillor in Haringey and under the leadership of Simon Hughes MP was made Deputy President for Inclusion issues. He later went on to found the charity, Faith Matters and Tell Mama, a helpline for reporting incidents of Islamophobia.
In 2010 Floella Benjamin of African Caribbean heritage and Meral Hussein Ece of Turkish-Cypriot background were appointed to the House of Lords. Between 2008-2012 whilst Meral was chairman of EMLD, EMLD adopted a new constitution and EMETF became merged into EMLD. Also during this period, Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg appointed Meral as his advisor on diversity and set up the Race Equality Task force. The policy paper and a motion on Race Equality in Education and Employment was adopted by the Party at conference in 2014.
Also around 2014, the party expanded the Diversity Unit at HQ and launched the Dadhabai Naraoji Award, a prize for local parties which have successfully reached out to ethnic minority communities and had a diverse executive team, an idea first promoted by Cllr Rabi Martins.
Issan Ghazni took on the Chairmanship of EMLD after Meral, and launched the Libdems Muslim Network around 2014. Ruwan Uduwerage-Pereira, a former Newbury Town Councillor was Chairman of EMLD between 2015-2017. Following his resignation from the Party, Roderick Lynch became Acting Chair and was elected at the Annual General Meeting that relaunched EMLD as LDCRE in June 2018.