End caste discrimination

End caste discrimination

Page 6 of 14: Caste discrimination should be prohibited by law.

Bigotry based on the idea of 'caste' has no place in modern Britain.

We want to see those at risk of caste discrimination protected by UK law.

'Caste' systems are rooted in ancient religious and cultural beliefs. They are imbued with inequality and discrimination, and are wholly incompatible with human rights.

There are an estimated 50,000 – 200,000 people in the UK who are regarded by some as 'low caste' (sometimes known as 'dalits') and at risk of caste discrimination. There is evidence of caste-based discrimination and harassment present in employment, education and in the provision of services.

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

Dawn Butler MP, Former shadow minister for women and equalities

Our equality laws do not explicitly deal with the issue of caste, meaning victims of caste discrimination have to use unclear and precarious case law to secure justice. 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.

It's time to outlaw caste discrimination.

Take action!

1. Have you experienced caste discrimination? Report it!

The Dalit Solidarity Network's "everyday casteism" campaign is cataloguing instances of casteist behaviour, including incidents of discriminatory or caste hate speech behaviour, experienced on a day to day basis by people perceived to be 'lower' caste in the UK.

If you have been affected by caste discrimination, please consider reporting it to them.

You can also report caste discrimination to the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance here.

2. Write to your MP

Tell your MP that it's time to outlaw caste discrimination.

3. Join the National Secular Society

Become a member of the National Secular Society today! Together, we can separate religion and state for greater freedom and fairness.

Latest updates

Departing MP blasts Government on caste discrimination

Posted: Fri, 5 May 2017 10:00

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

In an open letter to Justine Greening, the Minister for Equalities, Allen wrote that public consultations "have a deservedly poor reputation" but that he could not recall one "that is so misleading and biased".

He said the Government's "clear intention is to delay – probably forever – legislative protection against caste discrimination".

Allen wrote that action would be "so easy" to achieve if ministers used their powers to enact secondary legislation explicitly outlawing discrimination on the basis of caste.

The UN has repeatedly called for legislation outlawing caste.

Allen rejected the Government's argument against legislation, and said that simply waiting and hoping for appropriate case law to develop was totally insufficient.

He said he feared that the Government will use the "dysfunctional consultation" to justify continuing not to legislate, as it has avoided doing since coming into office. He warned that if this happens, the courts will take this as a signal that they should not develop case law to outlaw caste discrimination.

If Parliament did not act and the courts did, "they would risk being accused of usurping Parliament", meaning the prospect of the necessary protections emerging organically from appropriate case law were slight.

"While the Government would have us think it would welcome the development of case law, it deciding not to legislate will ensure there is no case law development either and those suffering caste discrimination will continue not to enjoy legal protection," Allen concluded.

He called for the consultation to be withdrawn, and, if it is not withdrawn, for a guarantee that the consultation would not be used as a justification for not legislating.

Allen said that the consultation failed "all ten" of the Government's own guidance on consultation.

He said it was "incomprehensible to anyone other than a specialist" and that "no attempt" had been made to those who actually suffer caste discrimination. This failed the key test that consultations must "Take account of the groups being consulted" and "consult stakeholders".

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is supportive of legislation to specifically outlaw caste-based discrimination, was not consulted prior to the consultation being launched.

Keith Porteous Wood, the executive director of the National Secular Society, said: "Parliament directed the Government to legislate on caste discrimination and the UN has demanded it. The Government has launched a consultation shamelessly dissuading respondents from opting for legislation. This will deny protection to victims, which appears to be the Government's agenda, in order to appease those – we suspect of so-called higher castes - implacably opposed to legislation."

Read more about our campaign to outlaw caste discrimination in the UK.

Government finally launches consultation on caste discrimination, but only asks “whether” law should change

Posted: Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:58

The Government's consultation on caste discrimination was finally launched this week after years of delay.

The consultation will run until July 2017, "to ensure that everyone will have the opportunity to express their opinions", but it is limited to the narrow question of "whether caste is required to be an aspect of race in the Equality Act", rather than considering how to implement the legal change that Parliament has already sought.

The Equality Act 2010 currently mandates that a minister "must by order amend this section so as to provide for caste to be an aspect of race" as it is considered under the legislation.

NSS executive director Keith Porteous Wood said: "It was expected but concerning that the consultation asks whether there should be legislation, given Parliament has demanded it and the UN strongly recommended it."

The foreword to the consultation document says that while no one "should suffer prejudice or discrimination on any grounds", the Government did not want to "create or entrench any notion of caste consciousness or caste-based practices into British society, which may prove counterproductive or divisive."

The Government said it did not want to "associate caste issues with any one particular community or religion".

The Government has also expressed concern that dealing with caste discrimination through legislation would create a stereotype of caste "as a discriminatory practice of certain ethnic groups creating potential problems in the harmony of the social fabric of modern British society."

Mr Wood said this kind of objection would be "unthinkable" in any other type of equality consultation. "A report commissioned by the UK Government concluded in 2010 that caste-based practices existed in quarters of British society. Far from introducing caste consciousness the required legislation would tackle existing prejudices," he added.

That report estimated that there were between 50,000 and 200,000 'low caste' people in Britain who could be "at risk" of caste discrimination. The authors said that a "major quantitative survey" would need to be carried out for a more accurate figure.

Currently those who do face discrimination due to their perceived 'low caste' status must rely on ambiguous case law and making a legal argument that an interpretation of the Equality Act can includes caste under race, but this is risky, expensive and does not provide expansive enough legal protection, the NSS said.

The Society has rejected the Government's assertion that allowing case law to develop would be sufficient in creating precedents that caste should be treated as a sub-section of race.

"An explicit reference to caste is required," Mr Wood said. "The Government is seeking consultation responses on the 'disadvantages' of relying on case law to implement a ban on caste-based discrimination, so at the very least this consultation will give us a chance to raise the serious problems with this approach."

Despite the limited parameters of the consultation, the NSS has welcomed the Government's statement in the consultation that "categorising or treating people by reference to their origins, in particular their caste" is unacceptable.

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

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