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UK moves to ban caste discrimination

In a move termed as ‘historic’, British lawmakers are in the process of amending equality laws to make caste-based discrimination illegal, following mounting evidence of the practice within the Asian community in London.

world Updated: Mar 04, 2010 01:18 IST

In a move termed as ‘historic’, British lawmakers are in the process of amending equality laws to make caste-based discrimination illegal, following mounting evidence of the practice within the Asian community here.

Academics and campaign groups have conducted surveys that highlight the prevalence of caste-based discrimination among people with origins in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

After refusing to amend the laws for some years on the ground that there was no evidence of such practice, Britain has now accepted that discrimination on grounds of caste may be happening.

Baroness Thornton, a government peer in the House of Lords, said such evidence may exist and has commissioned the National Institute of Economic and Social Research to conduct research into the subject and present its report by August.

Based on the evidence and research present in the report, the government is expected to amend equality laws and initiate measures to prevent caste-based discrimination in the same way as discrimination on grounds of sex, colour, religion, age, sexual orientation.

The study says: “There is clear evidence from the survey and the focus groups that the caste system has been imported into the UK with the Asian diaspora and that the associated discrimination affects citizens in ways beyond personal choices and social interaction.”