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UK Sikh Body Welcomes British Government’s Decision to Back Off On Anti-Caste Discrimination Legislation

July 24, 2018 | By

by Gurjeet Singh*

The UK government yesterday concluded that caste discrimination does not require separate legislation and said it can be covered as part of emerging case law in the country. The Sikh Federation (UK) lobbied for this outcome and responded to the consultation last July.

The ‘Caste in Great Britain and Equality Law – A Public Consultation’ had been launched in March last year to gather the public’s views on how best to ensure that there is “appropriate legal protection” against caste discrimination in Britain.

“Having given careful and detailed consideration to the findings of the consultation, the government believes that the best way to provide the necessary protection against unlawful discrimination because of caste is by relying on emerging case law as developed by courts and tribunals,” the UK government’s Equalities Office said in its conclusion released.

“We were not persuaded by the argument that introducing explicit legislation into domestic law was the most appropriate and proportionate way to provide the necessary legal protection against discrimination because of caste,” it adds.

The duty that currently appears in section 9 (5) (a) of the Equality Act 2010 requires Government to take action to include caste as an aspect of race for the purposes of the Act. The decision to rely on emerging case-law renders that duty redundant and the UK Government will identify the most suitable legislative vehicle that can be used to repeal it at an early opportunity.

Bhai Amrik Singh Gill [File Photo]

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“We responded to the consultation over a year ago on 5 July 2017 and stated:

The Government should repeal the duty introduced in 2013 to avoid entrenching caste consciousness in legislation.

At the same time the opportunity should be used to amend the explanatory note to the Equality Act 2010 to remove the erroneous and offensive reference to Sikhs in the definition.

Although explanatory notes are not legislation and do not give authoritative rulings on interpretation of the Act, which can only come from the courts, explanatory notes are however sometimes referred to in litigation.”

“We are hopeful a repeal of the legislation that has been announced by the government will allow the erroneous and offensive reference to Sikhs in the definition included in the explanatory note to the Equality Act 2010 to be removed.”

*is national press secretary of  Sikh Youth Federation UK

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