UK set to outlaw caste discrimination

House of Lords has voted twice for legal protection to be given to 4,00,000 Dalits.

Written by PTI | London | Published: April 23, 2013 9:13:43 pm

Caste discrimination is to be outlawed in the UK,as the government today took a U-turn after its policy was rejected by the House of Lords for a second time,bringing much cheer to about 4,00,000 Dalits in the country.

Amendments tabled by Business Secretary Vince Cable in the House of Commons today state that the Equality Act will “provide for caste to be an aspect of race”.

This means that the government has now conceded on the principle and has tabled an amendment which requires the Secretary of State to bring forward regulations to include caste as an aspect of Race (under Section 9(5) of the Equality Act) within two months of enactment of the Enterprise Bill.

In a major parliamentary stand-off,The House of Lords has voted twice for legal protection to be given to the estimated 4,00,000 Dalits — so-called untouchables — who live in the UK.

Commons MPs had last month overturned the first Lords vote,sparking a tussle between the two Houses. But after the peers again backed the proposals by 181 to 168 votes yesterday,forcing the government to re-think.

“This is a major victory for us. Our planned demonstration in Parliament Square today to protest against the government’s stand on the issue has now turned into a celebration,” said Caste Watch UK general-secretary Davinder Prasad,who has been spearheading a campaign in favour of caste-based discrimination to be included in the UK’s equality laws.

“Too many British citizens have suffered caste-based discrimination and this legislation now offers hope to the tens of thousands of British Asians whose lives are blighted by such prejudice. This is a victory for the Lords and their emphasis on protecting Human Rights,” added Keith Porteous Wood,executive director of the National Secular Society.

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