Cast out CASTE: Make your voice heard; make your vote count at the General Election 7 May 2015

With the General Election in the United Kingdom just around the corner we have our chance to grill all...

Apr 07 2015

Cast out CASTE: Make your voice heard; make your vote count at the General Election 7 May 2015

by Meena Varma in News

With the General Election in the United Kingdom just around the corner we have our chance to grill all the hopeful to our Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) on their stance on caste discrimination and gauge their support (or not) for the necessary legislation to finally outlaw it from our streets, our schools and our places of work.

I will be tweeting regularly during the next few weeks addressing some parties directly for their lack of commitment to addressing caste discrimination here in the UK – so please do RT as appropriate

Follow me on Twitter @DSNUK

Current Background in brief

As suspected, we reached an impasse with the previous government, whereby their well-timed delays and procrastinations resulted in NO progress towards the implementation of the caste discrimination legislation – exceeding their own timetable by many many months and effectively ruled out any possibility of justice for victims and potential victims of caste discrimination.

In responses to several Parliamentary Questions about the ongoing delays to implementation of the caste discrimination legislation during the last session, Government stated that it awaited the outcome of the ruling by the Appeal Judge on a Caste legislation related Employment Tribunal – Tirkey v. Chandok.

In this case, the Claimant was a woman whose caste was described as Adivasi (or Scheduled Tribe). The Claimant claimed that her employers had treated her badly and in a demeaning manner, in part, because of her caste. The employer sought to strike out the part of her claim related to discrimination by reason of her caste on the basis that caste is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.

In the first instance, the Employment Tribunal rejected this strike out application. The EAT upheld this decision and dismissed the appeal, allowing the caste discrimination claim to proceed to a full hearing in the Employment Tribunal.

On one hand it is argued that the ruling means that ‘caste’ can be subsumed under race and ethnic origins; on the other the ruling was clear that each case must be decided of the individual circumstances – determined by whether the Claimant’s descent can fall within the definition of “ethnic or national origin”.

What the judgement and the case did is reinforce that caste discrimination is an issue coming before the courts. There is a clear need for implementation of legislation to clarify and simplify the current position.

What has become increasingly clear is that the decision to stall the implementation of the legislation came from the very top of Government. Those vested interests which were able to influence the then Tory Minister for Equalities also seem to have had the ear of the PM. Even Peter Hitchens on last week’s Question Time stated that the Tory party is  only held together by other people’s money.

The UK general election on 7 May 2015 gives us an opportunity to ask some important questions of our prospective parliamentary candidates from all parties. Call them out on their own and their party’s position!

Suggested Questions to Pose to your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

  1. What is your party’s position on the issue of caste discrimination legislation – and the implementation of Section 9 of the Equality Act 2010?
  2. If you successfully become an MP will you support the introduction of secondary legislation to effectively outlawing caste?
  3. If you do not support caste discrimination legislation, please explain why not?
  4. If in government from May 2015, will your party implement the necessary clause to provide specific protection for victims and potential victims of caste discrimination?
  5. If yes, then by what date do you anticipate that the clause will have been brought into force?
  6. If not, why not?