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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Outlaw 'caste' discrimination

Caste-based prejudice should have no place in modern Britain. We want to see caste-based discrimination explicitly recognised as a form of discrimination under UK equality legislation.

What's the problem?

The caste system is the result of ancient religious and cultural beliefs, most often, though not exclusively, associated with Hinduism. The caste system is imbued with inequality and discrimination, and is in diametric opposition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Research has estimated there are at least 50,000 (and perhaps in excess of 200,000) people living in the UK who are classified as "low caste" and at risk of caste discrimination, and found that there is caste-based discrimination, harassment and bullying present in employment, education and in the provision of services.

The Equality Act does not explicitly deal with the issue of caste, meaning victims of caste discrimination currently have to use unclear and precarious case law to secure justice. An express provision in the Equality Act 2010 would remove any legal uncertainty. Both Parliament and the United Nation Human Rights Council have called on the Government to explicitly outlaw caste-based discrimination, but it has delayed doing so for years.

In April 2017 the Government announced a long awaited public consultation on the issue of caste and the Equality Act 2010. This provides an opportunity to again press the Government to do the right thing and explicitly outlaw caste-based discrimination.

Find out more

Caste discrimination: Fear of upsetting religious groups must not impede social justice

Caste discrimination: Fear of upsetting religious groups must not impede social justice

Caste discrimination is the latest area where misplaced sensitivity could allow deference to religion to trump social justice, argues Stephen Evans.

Why won’t the Government get serious about caste discrimination?

Why won’t the Government get serious about caste discrimination?

Stephen Evans argues that it's time for the Government to stop dragging its heels and outlaw discrimination and harassment on the grounds of caste.

Related news

Baroness Thornton joins the NSS as an honorary associate

Baroness Thornton joins the NSS as an honorary associate

Thu, 11 Aug 2016 16:24

The National Secular Society is delighted to welcome Baroness Thornton as a new honorary associate.

Calls for Government to outlaw caste discrimination after tribunal rules in favour of victim kept in “domestic servitude”

Calls for Government to outlaw caste discrimination after tribunal rules in favour of victim kept in “domestic servitude”

Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:56

A victim's charity has slammed Government inaction on caste discrimination, following an Employment Tribunal awarding nearly £200,000 to a woman who worked for four and a half years in horrendous conditions.

Caste: Anti-discrimination groups issue ‘urgent call’ to participate in government’s consultation

Caste: Anti-discrimination groups issue ‘urgent call’ to participate in government’s consultation

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:29

The NSS has urged supporters to respond to a Government consultation on caste discrimination, as new website aids those who support specifically outlawing discrimination based on 'caste' to respond.

Conservative MP says anti-discrimination law is “unwanted”

Conservative MP says anti-discrimination law is “unwanted”

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:22

A Conservative MP has criticised attempts to outlaw caste based discrimination on the basis that it is "unwanted" by the Hindu community.

Departing MP blasts Government on caste discrimination

Departing MP blasts Government on caste discrimination

Fri, 05 May 2017 11:00

Former MP Graham Allen has accused the Government of launching a "misleading" consultation to delay action against caste discrimination "for ever".