The government has launched a consultation on caste discrimination.

Back in September, we reported that the government had announced that it would conduct a consultation on the issue of caste discrimination and the Equality Act, but a date was never set. Now the consultation process has started and will run for 16 weeks, ending on 18th July 2017.

The consultation paper says it is about “how to ensure that there is appropriate and proportionate legal protection against unlawful discrimination because of a person’s origins”. It concedes that “there is very little knowledge and understanding about caste in Great Britain and no universally accepted functional definition of caste which can be relied on”.

As the law currently stands, race is one of the protected characteristics established under the Equality Act 2010. Under the Act, race includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins.

The consultation is seeking views from employers, service providers, public authorities and the wider public on two options:

  • Banning caste discrimination through developing case law to include caste within the meaning of “ethnic origins”, or
  • Banning caste discrimination by expressly laying down caste as an aspect of race in the Equality Act. Essentially, it would create a new subsection to go alongside colour, nationality and ethnic and national origins.

You can review the consultation in full here and find all the details on how to respond.

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