UK Parliament rejects caste legislation
UK: British Parliament has rejected a controversial amendment
to introduce an anti-caste legislation in the UK that calls for caste to
be recognised among other forms of discrimination.
The House of Commons voted yesterday against the motion 307 to 243,
which called for caste to be recognised among other forms of
discrimination in the Equality Act, 2010. "There is a range of views
within those communities that are very, very concerned about the
possibility of actually increasing stigma through using legislation to
try to deal with this particular issue," Business Minister Jo Swinson
told the House.
Similar views are shared by the Alliance of Hindu Organisations UK (AHO),
which had labelled it a "backward step" for the Hindu community.
The House of Lords had passed the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Bill amendment with a majority during a debate last month, forcing
another debate in the Commons which had previously rejected the idea of
including caste among other forms of discrimination.
The Conservative-led coalition government has announced a new
education programme titled 'Talk For A Change' instead as a more
"appropriate or effective way" to tackle this "complex and sensitive
Caste Watch UK, which has been campaigning in favour of caste-based
discrimination to be included in the country's equality laws for years,
had gathered hundreds of its supporters outside Parliament to reinforce
calls in favour of the motion.
"We knew this would be a difficult fight because the government has
already taken a stand on this matter which is not in line with our human
"Today's vote will be perceived as them siding with the perpetrators
rather than the victim community. We will not stop here and we will
continue with our campaign," the group's general secretary, Davinder
The government had commissioned the National Institute of Economic
and Social Research (NIESR) to carry out research into the issue,
resulting in a report in December 2010 entitled 'Caste discrimination
and harassment in Great Britain'.
The report had pegged Britain's Dalit or lower caste community
between 50,000 and 2,00,000 and found that caste awareness was largely
focused among people with roots in the Indian sub-continent. The
government has asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission to further
examine the nature of caste prejudice and harassment in the UK, the
findings of which are to be tabled later this year.