In March 2013 the House of Lords agreed an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which would make caste discrimination unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. The Act currently prohibits race discrimination, harassment and victimisation in the workplace. The definition of “race” within the Act includes colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin but, as it is non-exhaustive, may also include caste.0
In order for this amendment to make its way into legislation it would also need to be agreed by the House of Commons. The House of Commons have however indicated that this proposed amendment is opposed and the Government do not intend to exercise the power to extend the Act to specifically include caste at the present time.
Instead, the Government Equalities Office and Department for Communities and Local Government have appointed “Talk for Change”, a community interest company, to engage with communities affected by caste discrimination and to run an educational programme. The aim of this programme is to raise awareness of the channels of help and redress that are already open to those who feel they have been discriminated against or harassed as a result of caste. The Government confirmed they have also been in discussions with the EHRC who will be examining the nature of caste prejudice and harassment, and the extent to which the problem might be addressed by legislative or other solutions. The findings will be published later this year.