End caste discrimination

End caste discrimination

Page 8 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

NSS accuses Government of showing contempt for Parliament and UK’s international obligations on caste discrimination

Posted: Mon, 5 Sep 2016 11:31

The National Secular Society has criticised the Government for "stalling" on caste discrimination after it announced plans for a consultation "on the issue of caste" despite already being under an obligation to outlaw such discrimination.

David Cameron's coalition Government initially promised a consultation in 2013 which it failed to deliver. Parliament subsequently committed to make caste a protected characteristic (as an aspect of race) under equality law via a clause in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

Just last month the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on the UK to "invoke Section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010 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".

Following years of delays and obstruction, Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said that a consultation "at this stage is just a further attempt to stall implementing what parliament has instructed the Government to do."

Mr Wood continued: "By launching the consultation rather than taking action to outlaw caste-discrimination, the Government are displaying contempt for Parliament, the UN and our international obligations.

"In launching this consultation the Government are giving the oppressors the opportunity to seek to veto legislation to protect the oppressed. We invite the Prime Minister to consider how this approach to equality and Human Rights matches up to her commitment on taking office: 'For me, equality is about fairness. It is simply wrong for anyone to face discrimination or abuse because of who they are.'"

The Government Equalities Office said: "The government is to undertake a full public consultation on the issue of caste and the Equality Act 2010.

"A key aim of the consultation will be to obtain the views of the public on whether additional measures are needed to ensure victims of caste discrimination have appropriate legal protection and effective remedies under the 2010 Equality Act.

"Before taking any decisions, the Government will carefully consider the responses to the consultation, which will run for 12 weeks from its commencement date."

Victims of caste discrimination must currently rely on what Mr Wood described as "ambiguous and untested case law".

In July 2016, shortly before Theresa May took office, the National Secular Society urged the new Government to honour the will of parliament and the UK's international obligations by explicitly outlawing caste-based discrimination.

There is cross-party support for legislation to outlaw caste-based discrimination in the House of Lords.

During a debate on 11 July the Conservative peer Lord Deben told the House: "This is the first chance that a new Government have got to stand up and tell this House that they intend to obey the law. The only alternative is to tell this House that they intend to disobey the law. I do not believe that is a proper position for any Government."

Baroness Thornton joins the NSS as an honorary associate

Posted: Thu, 11 Aug 2016 16:24

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

Glenys Thornton served as Labour's equality spokesperson from 2011 to 2015 and now focuses her work in the House of Lords on issues related to education, equality and human rights.

She has played a significant role in the campaign to outlaw caste-based discrimination. She was responsible, while Labour was in office, for enabling legislation and commissioning a report which confirmed that caste-based discrimination was a problem in the UK.

She recently spoke in a debate in the House of Lords on the matter. She told peers that parliament owed an apology to the Dalit community in the UK.

"I feel that we owe an apology. I think that the Government do, and I would like to apologise to the Dalit community in the UK for having lived with inaction on this issue for so long. We gave the power in 2010 to put forward caste discrimination as a protected characteristic. It is shocking that we have not done so."

She commended campaigners against caste discrimination for their persistence and said that the Conservative Government's failure to act "shows a contempt for Parliament that is really unacceptable".

NSS executive director Keith Porteous Wood said:

"We are delighted that Baroness Thornton is joining our outstanding group of peers in the House of Lords, campaigning for secularism and protecting human rights. Baroness Thornton has spoken powerfully about the need to outlaw caste-based discrimination, something which the National Secular Society has campaigned on since 2009."

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