The UK government has decided not to legislate for caste discrimination as a protected characteristic but instead rely on emerging case-law in courts.
Every Hindu acquires caste at birth and the 1.5 million-strong Indian community in UK has been deeply divided on the issue. Hindu, Sikh and Jain lobbies deny that caste-based discrimination exists in Britain, however, several individuals (Dalit), and other groups insist it exists.
The Government’s consultation which ran from 28 March 2017 to 18 September 2017, invited views on whether suitable legal protection against caste discrimination is better ensured by exercising the duty or by relying on emerging case-law under the Act as developed by courts and tribunals.
The consultation responses identified “no significant aspects of what constituted ‘caste’ that would not adequately be captured by either the ethnic origins provisions already in the Equality Act 2010, or by other parts of the Act such as those relating to religion or belief”.
Accusing the government of “selling out” to the influential lobbies, Sat Pal Munim of Castewatch UK said: “The government has sent a depressing message to the Dalits that their cause is not important as they continue to face discrimination with impunity”.
The Government’s consultation response can be found here: Caste in Great Britain and equality law: a public consultation
Case Law: Chandhok v Tirkey