Caste discrimination legislation – a (long) timeline

A summary of the slow progress towards including caste discrimination as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010

On 21 July, the National Secular Society and Lord Avebury wrote jointly to the Prime Minister in protest at the Government’s continuing failure to outlaw caste-based discrimination. The letter indicated that: research undertaken by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research had indicated that it affected well over 50,000 people in the UK; and failure to legislate was “in breach of the UK’s treaty obligations, running contrary to a recommendation of the UN Human Rights Council.”

Citing Begraj & Anor v Heer Manak Solicitors & Ors  [2014] UKEAT 0496 13 1706 it said that leaving caste discrimination to the courts put it beyond the reach of victims, particularly because many had scant financial resources, by the very “nature of caste”. The letter also made reference to a legal opinion commissioned by the NSS in 2013 which concluded that the UK is “obliged in international human rights law to legislate for caste discrimination and further obliged to provide victims of such discrimination with an effective remedy.”

The continued procrastination of both the present Government and the previous Coalition has been highlighted previously in L&RUK; and it is opportune therefore to revise and collate our earlier timeline of events and summaries of the legal issues and opinions, here, here, and here. Continue reading