The much anticipated ruling on the Tirkey v Chandok case came out last week. And was found in favour of the victim, who suffered terrible abuse at the hands of her employers – proving that caste discrimination does exist and that Ms Tirkey was a victim of domestic servitude and slavery http://atleu.org.uk/our-recent-cases/ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34330986 http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/sep/22/woman-awarded-184000-in-uks-first-caste-discrimination-case http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11882926/Low-caste-woman-awarded-183000-compensation-in-discrimination-case.html It was indeed an excellent outcome for the victim, but despite the fact that the judgement appears to allow for caste discrimination under race and ethnic origin, this case does not set a precedent and future cases may not be covered by existing legislation Caste-based discrimination legislation still desperately needs to be brought into force for clarity. Worse still for our campaign is that HMG may well use this ET outcome as an excuse to repeal the law. We have already been advised by one of Lords in the All Party Group who is a QC that The decision is of no value as a precedent and the government should not be allowed to use it as an excuse for defying the will of parliament. So great news and a great win for Ms Tirkey, BUT …….
With an overwhelming and unassailable majority in the very first round, Jeremy Corbyn MP and long-time supporter and defender of Dalit Rights is the new Labour Leader of the UK Parliament and Leader of the Opposition. This is a victory of honesty, principle and hope. Here at DSN-UK we are delighted that at last we have a champion of the just causes at the top table. The Labour Party position on discrimination is clear. We will be seeking their unconditional support for Dalit rights across the globe and to finally push this Conservative Government in to obeying the will of Parliament and implementing the caste discrimination legislation of the Equality Act 2010. Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour Leader and next PM
UK Dalit organisations write to PM Modi about his silence and inaction over the role of senior BJP leaders in the Dalit massacres in Bihar
In the run up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK, several of the UK’s foremost Dalit organisations have written to Narendra Modi, expressing their dismay about the recent revelations by investigative news portal Cobrapost. Their letter notes that senior BJP politicians were involved in the massacres of some 144 Dalit men, women and children in Bihar and that Mr Modi has so far neither spoken out against the self-confessed killers and their accomplices nor taken any action against them. Spokespersons from the organisations urge Mr Modi to act because his ‘ lack of action on this issue gives the shocking message that Dalit and oppressed caste lives do not matter in India’ . They urge him to act urgently to ensure that the self-confessed killers are brought to justice and that all the politicians, including senior BJP politicians, are dismissed from their posts, arrested and charged. Read the full letter here
Is the UK Government planing to repeal the duty to implement the much needed caste clause in the Equality Act 2010 – as agreed by both Houses of Parliament in April 2013? It has been a long wait. http://lanchesterreview.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/re-legalising-caste-based.html My Blog post for Lanchester Review MV
Includes a pledge to outlaw caste discrimination. The only UK political party to do so http://www.libdems.org.uk/liberal-democrats-launch-bame-manifesto
Caste · Labour is clear that Caste is not a distinction based on religion. We agree with the EHRC’s view that it is a form of social differentiation distinct from class, race or religion and we believe it is important that any statutory definition reflects this view. · We also recognise that discrimination of this nature is something that no religion in the UK sanctions. · In 2013 Labour voted for Cross-bench amendments in the House of Lords clarifying the law in relation to caste discrimination. This was a provision that was voted for by MPs and Peers of all Parties and no Parties. · We did so because we believe individuals have the right to protection against discrimination on the basis of their caste or perceived caste, in the same way that they do on the basis of race or gender. · This Government failed to do a proper consultation on the issue, as was promised by the previous Labour Government, and we are concerned that they are failing to properly consult now on the implementation of this provision.
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 What is your party’s position on the issue of caste discrimination legislation – and the implementation of Section 9 of the Equality Act 2010? If you successfully become an MP will you support the introduction of secondary legislation to effectively outlawing caste? If you do not support caste discrimination legislation, please explain why not? 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? If yes, then by what date do you anticipate that the clause will have been brought into force? If not, why not?
DSN Director Meena Varma spoke at the LibDem conference in Liverpool on 14 March 2015 at a side event organised by the Humanist Secular Lib Dems. Joining her on the panel were Dr Julian Huppert MP and Jo Swinson MP. The meeting was chaired by Gordon Lishman. Our thanks to the Humanist & Secularist Liberal Democrats for making the event happen and for their ongoing support. The Party’s Equalities Motion, and the policy paper that it endorsed at the Autumn Conference, both included a commitment to tackle caste discrimination. The motion was carried without any relevant amendments, so the following quotes now represent party policy. The most relevant sections of the policy paper and the motion are below: Policy Paper 120: Expanding Opportunity, Unlocking Potential (Equalities Policy Paper) Executive Summary: Recognising Diversity in Communities “Liberal Democrats welcome differences in faith or culture, to promote diversity in communities, so we will: * “Accelerate moves to give caste recognition in law on level footing with other protected characteristics (3.3.3) (p.9) Inclusive Environment 3.3 Recognising Diversity in Communities 3.3.3 Caste In line with international law Liberal Democrats reject any notion that the circumstances of someone’s birth should determine their future role in society. The Enterprise and regulatory Reform Act 2013 requires the Government to include caste as an aspect of race within the Equality Act 2010. While we await the Government’s consultation on this matter we think caste needs recognition in law on a level footing with other protected characteristics and Liberal Democrats would accelerate the implementation of caste discrimination provisions. (p.68) F27 Policy Motion: Expanding Opportunity, Unlocking Potential (Equalities Policy Paper) Conference notes that: Liberal Democrats are rightly proud of a commitment to equality that goes back decades, and the vision for a fair, free and open society is enshrined in our constitution. In government Liberal Democrats have championed equality, working for a fairer society. Conference believes that: There is still much more to be done to reduce inequalities, poverty and disadvantage for those with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 – Liberal Democrats want to expand opportunity and unlock potential by promoting equality in education and employment, in health and wellbeing and in an inclusive society. Liberal Democrats want Britain to take the lead in tackling inequalities abroad. At the heart of our approach is the promotion of human rights to empower individuals to reach their full potential and have more control over their own life, to live in a way that is right for them and free from discrimination. Conference therefore endorses policy paper 120, Expanding Opportunity, Unlocking Potential, and particularly welcomes its proposals to: Build an inclusive society that celebrates diversity through: a) Accelerating the recognition of caste as an aspect of race under the Equality Act. (Agenda, pages 53-55) Links: Equalities Policy Paper, Autumn Conference 2014 : http://www.libdems.org.uk/policy_paper_120_expanding_opportunity_unlocking_potential Agenda, Autumn Conference 2014: http://www.libdems.org.uk/autumn_conference_2014_provisional_agenda
As you can see these have been meagre so far. A thoughtful response but sadly still a holding one from Jo Swinson MP and no direct response from the Prime Minister or the Deputy PM and nothing from the Official Opposition at all.
20 October 2014 Despite EHRC reports condemning caste discrimination and saying it ‘cannot be tolerated and should be included in the protections against discrimination and harassment provided in the Equality Act 2010′ legislation in the UK making caste discrimination illegal is still pending until Spring 2015. Therefore a letter along with DSN-UK leaflets were sent to all members of Her Majesty’s Government and Her Majesty’s Official Opposition in an attempt to speed up the process.The letter points out the estimated 400,000 Dalits living in the UK and the disastrous impact this has on Dalit rights such as education and employment. The letter goes on to say the suspension of legislation until Spring 2015 resulting in Dalits’ rights continuing to be violated. To date, we have had no response from either Her Majesty’s Government or Her Majesty’s Official Opposition. Below are copies of the letters sent out to all members of Her Majesty’s Government and Her Majesty’s Official Opposition and the leaflet accompanying them 2014 DSN UK letter to HMG 2014 DSN UK letter to Shadow Cabinet