End caste discrimination

End caste discrimination

Page 7 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

Conservative MP says anti-discrimination law is “unwanted”

Posted: 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.

Backbench Conservative MP Bob Blackman asked the Government for a statement "on the position of the promised consultation document on caste discrimination?"

Some 'high caste' Hindu activists have been resisting campaigns to explicitly outlaw discrimination on the basis of caste, and there have been extensive delays from both the current and coalition governments.

In response to Blackman's question, David Lidington MP, the Leader of the House of Commons, said he understood the matter was "very important to his constituents".

Mr Lidington added that "this particular decision involves not only a policy commitment but the allocation of legislative time," which he said was under considerable pressure from many government departments.

The Government originally promised a consultation on implementing anti-discrimination law in 2014.

The NSS described the most recent announcement, in September 2016, as "a further attempt to stall implementing what Parliament has instructed the Government to do."

The launch of the consultation was last promised for 2016 but it still has not been launched.

If and when the consultation is launched it will ask whether legislation is necessary, rather than how it should be achieved.

This is despite Parliament's requirement and a UN recommendation from 2016 to invoke the relevant section of the Equality Act "without further delay to ensure that caste-based discrimination is explicitly prohibited under law and that victims of this form of discrimination have access to effective remedies".

Mr Blackman claimed that the consultation "will allow the Hindu community in particular the opportunity to put its perspective on why this unwanted, unnecessary and ill-judged legislation can be removed from the statute book."

Keith Porteous Wood, the executive director of the National Secular Society, said: "Caste discrimination legislation is a further example that the Government's obsession with parliamentary sovereignty does not extend to anything the Government does not want to do.

"Its procrastination since the enabling power in 2010 and refusal to act since required to do so in 2013 show a contempt by the Executive for Parliament to which it should be accountable.

"Similarly, its refusal to abide by numerous UN recommendations to follow our international treaty obligations set an appalling international example, especially for a Government whose PM is keen to assure the world it is committed to the rule of law.

"A government report has shown there to be caste discrimination in Britain. The sad truth is that despite the PM's stated concern for people not to be disadvantaged by their racial background, the Government seem much more interested in listening to high caste Hindus who do not want legislation than listening to those who are discriminated against. We have no evidence that the Government have ever sought to listen to the victims. We would not seek misogynists' approval to legislate on sex discrimination."

NSS intervenes at UN Human Rights Council over UK failure to outlaw caste discrimination

Posted: Mon, 19 Sep 2016 13:50

The National Secular Society has spoken out at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to criticise the UK Government over its failure to tackle caste based discrimination, as the UN has repeatedly urged it do.

Josephine Macintosh (pictured right), speaking on behalf of the National Secular Society, told the UNHRC that the UK government had made "grossly inadequate" progress toward outlawing caste discrimination.

"In 2012, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommended that the UK 'put in practice a national strategy to eliminate discrimination against caste' by adopting the Equality Act of 2010, which prohibits such discrimination.

"It reminded the UK of its human rights obligations, including the [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination's] General Recommendation 29 and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism.

"Sadly, the UPR's recommendation did 'not enjoy the support of the United Kingdom'.

"Four years later, the CERD issued its Concluding Observations on the UK in which it also recommended that the UK invoke Section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 'without further delay to ensure that caste-based discrimination is explicitly prohibited under law' and for victims to have access to effective remedies."

The Equality Act allows the Government to make caste an aspect of race protected from discrimination under the legislation.

"The UK has failed to take this action. Instead, it stated that it hopes for 'the development of case-law that provides protection.' This is grossly inadequate."

Rather than explicitly outlawing discrimination based on caste as the UN has recommended and parliament has voted for, the Government recently announced a public consultation – many years after it first promised one, and long after it was urged by the United Nations to take legislative action.

"This is concerning as it risks so-called higher caste and those wishing to discriminate on grounds of caste to oppose the legislation," the NSS said.

"We therefore call on all member states to encourage the UK to legislate to implement its international obligations in respect of caste, in line with its human rights obligations, as recommended by the UN, and indeed as required by the UK Parliament."

The intervention can be watched here: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/watch/item4-general-debate-14th-meeting-33rd-regular-session-human-rights-council-/5131061115001 (Scroll down to intervention 49: National Secular Society, Ms. Josephine Macintosh)

The intervention can be read in full here: https://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/nss-intervention-at-uncrc-sept2016-caste.pdf

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