Caste Discrimination: A Twenty-First Century Challenge for UK Discrimination Law?
38 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2009
Discrimination based on caste affects at least 270 million people worldwide, mostly in South Asia. Caste as a system of social organisation has been exported from its regions of origin to diaspora communities such as the UK, yet despite the prohibition of caste-based discrimination in international human rights law caste is not recognised as a ground of discrimination in English law. The overhaul of its equality framework and the proposed new single equality act present the UK with an opportunity to align national legislation with international law obligations. The Government's decision not to include protection against caste discrimination in the new legislation leaves race and religion as the only possible legal ‘homes’ for caste. This article considers the argument for legal recognition of caste discrimination in the UK, the capacity of race and religion to subsume caste as a ground of discrimination, and the role and limitations of law in addressing ‘new’ forms of discrimination such as casteism.
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