Caste Discrimination and the Equality Bill

I moved an amendment at Committee stage of the Equality Bill which would make it against the law to discriminate on grounds of caste. The Bill moves to protect a number of ‘protected characteristics’ such as sexual orientation, disability, race, age and so on – but not caste. The Government would have none of it. As far as they were concerned they had seen no evidence. They had consulted – and there was no evidence in the responses of any problem.

Of course – the Government had consulted with essentially those organisations who condone the caste system – therefore (as I pointed out to the Minister) it was hardly surprising that the responders found there to be no problem.

I did, however (a bit cleverly I thought) in my closing statements to that stage of the Bill get the government to agree that if further evidence came forward – they would consider it. It’s in Hansard. They said they would!

So – I tabled another amendment to include caste in the ‘protected characteristics’ for Report Stage – which will hopefully be scheduled to come to the floor of the Commons soon after the Queen’s Speech. I hope the Speaker selects it for debate – but it may not get selected – in which case the next opportunity comes when the Bill is debated in the Lords.

So – action stations the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance and Caste Watch – two organisations who then took up the challenge to go get the much needed evidence.

Yesterday – the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance had an event in Parliament to launch the Report of that evidence. It is compelling. It is quite clear that caste discrimination exists in the UK. There are legions of examples – all put together in ten weeks. The evidence is compelling – so hopefully – the Government who said that they would consider any evidence coming forward will now bring forward their own amendment to include caste.

Fingers crossed!

0 thoughts on “Caste Discrimination and the Equality Bill

  1. So does that finally mean that the “political class” will likely face prison sentences for such things as tax fraud and public funds embezzlement, the same as us peasants would?

    I doubt it!

    What a waste of time, try doing something for YOUR FELLOW COUNTRYMEN WHO ARE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, CONSTANTLY!!!!

    And while I’m at it…. TELL YOUR PARTY LEADERS WE WANT A VOTE ON THE EU!

  2. Sorry that you are spending Parliamentary time on this interesting but fundamentally insignificant piece of legislation. What infinitessimal difference will you try to make next – a bill to ban discrimination against men with beards? an Anti-Blonde joke bill? The Height-Speech Act? How about a Bill to Prevent People Wearing Naff Clothes From Being Sneered At In Restaurants?

    Lynn, you are are good woman with a fine mind, but you can’t see the wood for the trees. The government has created a Police State, is destroying the pound by printing money and running up debt to put us into debt-bondage for decades (quite a feat to do both at one), one in five young people is unemployed and you table an ‘amendment to include caste in the ‘protected characteristics’ for Report Stage’ and BOAST about it? No wonder most people are fed up with Parliament at the moment.

  3. Sharon: caste discrimination is something that happens against our “fellow countrymen”, so I’m not sure why you don’t count tackling caste discrimination “doing something for your fellow countrymen”?

    Technomist: looking at the evidence (e.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/nov/11/caste-discrimination-uk-report ) caste discrimination seems to me to be a reasonably widespread and serious problem. What’s your reason for disagreeing with that evidence and lumping it in with beards and naff clothes?

  4. As Equality Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats and leading on the Equality BIll – it is exactly my role to table amendments eradicating discrimination. Just as Vince Cable would be the person tabling amendments on any Bill to do with the economy. That’s how it works on the whole and it doesn’t mean I don’t do things on the economy or that Vince doesn’t do things on equality issues – he does.

  5. We owe a big thank you to Lynne for raising it during the Bill Committee Stage in June this year and for securing the commitment to consider fresh evidence.

    We now have the evidence and you can download the report containing it from the Media subpage on our website entitled “The Report Itself” or click on this link http://www.acdauk.org.uk/?page_id=122

    Read it for yourself and see the compelling case for giving victims of caste discrimination the protection they need and which other people get right now (for discrimination on the grounds of sex, age, disability, race, gender, etc…).

    As the Chair of ACDA (Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance) I urge the readers of this blog to write to their MP and ask him/her to support the amendment proposed by Lynne and challenge the Government to include Caste in the Equality Bill.

  6. The devastating impact of Caste discrimination can only be expressed by those who have experienced this evil form of cruelty.

    A majority community within the minority section of British citizenship has silently suffered caste discrimination for over 50 years. It’s NOT going away!!!
    It needs to be challenged and its victims protected through law.
    Legislation is urgently required to do just that.

    The perpetrators would argue- ‘there in no caste discrimination in the UK’

    Those who have no experience of caste may minimise the seriousness (through ignorance)

    Those who have fallen victim of this inhumane cruelty (because of their caste) can only suffer in silence because ‘the law of the land won’t understand’

    We now have the chance to put legislation in place to protect those who have been discriminated against on the bases of their caste.

    Well done Lynne and others who can see beyond the blinkered view and hear the silent cries of so many British citizens.

  7. To sharon and techno mist,
    erm… Many of the indians who fought for your country during both world wars were in fact lower castes. Many of the gurkhas that serve the queen and your flag , currently in Helmands Afganistan, are also lower caste.

    It may also interest you to know that according to hindu society, us white europeans are also considered “untouchable” as we eat beef and apparently ” we dont clean ourselves properly!”

    So yes Anti caste is of intrest of us all and not just Asians. A hindu refused to take change from a white christian boy without covering his hands and preventing contact in a genaral store! Now do you see?

  8. I do not agree with Davinder. You are wrong in saying that many of the gurkhas who serve in Helmand are lower caste. Do your research right before putting something in the blog.

    There are also a few lower caste who joined the Gurkhas and I blame the British Recruiters for turning a blind eye on this.

    Get your facts right – talk to the recruiters in British Gurkhas Pokhara to get your facts.

    Don’t you ever say that gurkhas are lower caste.

  9. Dear Lynne
    Your comments on your blog relating to caste when you were Equalities Spokesperson for the Lib Dems are commendable. In your new position as the Equalities Minister you now have all the evidence you need to invoke section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010. You will also be aware that on 2 Sept 2011 the United Nations also recommended that the responsible Minister (ie YOU) invoke the law and make Caste an aspect of Race.
    There are many victims looking to you for leadership and to take the morally right action: invoke section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010 and protect your citizens.
    Dr Raj Chand
    ACDA Vice Chair

  10. Lynne,

    What’s the hold up? What’s going on? You are now in a position of power to bring into force section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010 – so please just do it!

    The NIESR report was released in December 2010, and it overwhelmingly concluded that Caste Based Discrimination indeed exists in the UK, and that the only effective way to respond to it is via legislation!

    Even the United Nationas has called on the UK Government to bring into force section 9(5)(a)!!!!!!