In a U-turn policy change the UK Government has decided that despite reports commissioned by the Government itself finding evidence of caste-based rights violations in the UK, caste will not be included as a protected characteristic alongside race, religion and ethnicity in the UK Equalities Act.
The Special Rapporteur (SR) on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, on Friday, 11 May 2018, concluded her official visit to the UK and issued her end of mission statement. During the visit the Special Rapporteur met with the UK government and Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales representatives. Ms Achiume also met with civil society in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast.
Economic & Political Weekly published an excellent article Caste in Britain: public consultation on caste and equality law by Annapurna Waughray. The author provides insightful commentary on why the UK government has not adopted a legislation outlawing caste-based discrimination in the UK yet and concludes that ‘Legislating against caste discrimination in the UK is not only contentious, it has become highly politicised’.
On 25 April 2018, DSN-UK in collaboration with Amos Trust, Churches Dalit Support Network and with the support of the Methodist Church held an event in London on “Dalit theology on caste Discrimination”. Among the special guests was DSN-UK patron Revd Dr Vincent Manoharan from Tamil Nadu in India. As a keynote speaker Vincent spoke passionately about discrimination faced by Dalits in India.
Caste Aside is a documentary about the British government's controversial decision to introduce legislation against caste discrimination in the UK. Highlighting both sides of this heated debate, the documentary speaks to Dalit rights activists, Hindu community leaders, academics and lawyers, as well as those who say they have been discriminated against on the basis of their caste - in Britain.
IDSN Executive Chair and DSN-UK Director, Meena Varma, has been shortlisted for a ‘Secularist of the year 2018 award’ by the The National Secular Society in the UK . The award ‘recognises a campaigner or group for an outstanding contribution to the secularist movement’. The NSS’s council of management selected the shortlist from nominations which were submitted by its members and supporters.
The UK’s Indian Diaspora community are going head to head as the Government’s consultation on caste discrimination legislation is extended. In several media reports groups that are pro and anti the introduction of legislation against caste discrimination in the UK, are arguing about the impact of such a move.
Several organisations and renowned academics have come together and created a website www.casteintheuk.org providing guidance on the questionnaire and the caste Consultation document, both of which contain complex legal terms and words. We do not want this to be a barrier to anyone wanting to respond to the survey.
A public consultation on caste in Great Britain and equality law has been launched by the UK Government and will take place on 18 July 2017. A joint appeal and website, urging relevant actors to fill in the consultation questionnaire and offering guidance, has been launched by several human rights organisations in the UK – including the Dalit Solidarity Network UK (DSN-UK).
Despite ample evidence that caste-discrimination in UK is a human rights issue, and a submission made by the Dalit Solidarity Network-UK and IDSN detailing the problem, not a single state mentioned caste discrimination at the UN UPR review of the UK. Human rights campaigners are disappointed at the negligence of the international community when it comes to addressing caste in the UK context. DSN-UK have summarised the review on their website.
Joint alternative report on caste-based discrimination in the UK – ALTERNATIVE REPORT for the 3rd review cycle under the Universal Period Review of the United Kingdom
Key facts and recommendations on caste-based discrimination for the UK UPR 2017 – prepared by the Dalit Solidarity Network UK (DSN-UK)
Ahead of the reviews fact sheets and UPR submissions concerning the situation of Dalits in the two countries have been prepared. The reviews are in place to examine the extent to which the two countries are upholding their international commitments on human rights. Dalit rights activists and organisations are urging states to act on holding both governments accountable to their obligations to combat caste discrimination.
BBC Asian Network’s host of the Big Debate, Nomia Iqbal, led a live debate on the caste legislation in the UK. Satpal Muman, Chair of CasteWatch UK and Satish Sharma, from the National Council of Hindu Temples, were in the studio and DSN-UK Director, Meena Varma called in.
On 28 August 2016, as a part of the regular review process, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) published its concluding observations to the UK. The Committee expressed its concern that ‘several provisions of the Equality Act 2010 have not yet been brought into legal effect, including Section 9(5)(a) on caste-based discrimination’. Once again the UK government is being urged to ‘Invoke Section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010 without further delay to ensure that caste-based discrimination is explicitly prohibited under law and that victims of this form of discrimination have access to effective remedies, taking into account the Committee’s general recommendation No. 29 (2002) on descent’.