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?
Caste-based prejudice and discrimination is a gross violation of human rights and must not be tolerated. All individuals have the right to protection against discrimination on the basis of their caste or perceived caste, in the same way that they do on the basis of race or gender
The caste system is rooted in ancient religious and cultural beliefs. It 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 regarded by some as "low caste" and at risk of caste discrimination. The research found evidence of 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 have removed 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.
What are we doing?
- The NSS actively supports efforts to outlaw caste discrimination. We have been working for many years with anti-caste campaigners to highlight the problem of caste discrimination in the UK. In 2016 we addressed the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) urging it to hold the UK Government to account over its failure to tackle caste-based discrimination.
- The NSS has been closely involved with the introduction of both legislative provisions passed by the UK Parliament concerning caste. A provision in the Equality Act 2010 that enabled secondary legislation to be passed by a Ministerial Order was replaced in 2013 by an instruction by Parliament to the Government to outlaw such discrimination, a move strongly endorsed by the United Nations, most recently in 2016.
- In April 2017 the Government announced a long awaited public consultation on the issue of caste and the Equality Act 2010. We called on the Government to legislate against caste discrimination in our submission to the consultation, which closed in September 2017. In July 2018, the Government announced that it would not explicitly recognise caste-based discrimination under equality legislation, a decision criticised by the NSS, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and various organisations and individuals in the field of human rights
What you can do:
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Our response to the 2017 to the public consultation on Caste in Great Britain and Equality Law by the Government Equalities Office.
Caste Discrimination Briefing (PDF, 305 Kb)
Our detailed briefing on caste discrimination and why it should be outlawed.
Verbal statement for United Nations Human Rights Council, 4 September 2016
While you're here
We're been challenging religious threats to equality and human rights for over 150 years. Our huge progress needs to protected and there's still work to be done. Will you help?