California Senate passes bill banning caste discrimination – 247 news stories around the world

The California Senate passes legislation outlawing caste discrimination

The California Senate voted to ban caste discrimination.


In a historic move, the California State Senate passed legislation on Thursday that would outlaw caste discrimination in the state.

Passed by a 34-1 vote, the bill – SB 403 – would make California the first US state to include caste as a protected category in its antidiscrimination laws. Supporters of the bill, led by the nonprofit organization Equality Lab, said a similar bill would go to the state House of Representatives before it could go to the governor for signing into law.

Introduced by California Senator Aisha Wahab, SB 403 adds caste as a protected category to an existing law, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which provides that all people in the state of California are entitled to full and equal accommodation, benefits, facilities, and privileges have , or services in all business establishments.

SB 403 provides explicit protections for those who have been systematically harmed because of caste bias and prejudice. It also provides clear legal ramifications for those who choose to evade responsibility or the consequences of allowing or engaging in caste discrimination and caste violence.

This landmark bill comes just weeks after the California Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed SB403 in April. It also follows historic Seattle City Council legislation outlawing caste discrimination earlier this year, as well as resolutions designating caste as a protected category passed by the California Democratic Party, the California State University system, the Alphabet Workers Union and tech giants like Apple Cisco and others passed.

Seattle City Councilman Kshama Sawant, who was instrumental in Seattle being the first city to pass legislation to combat caste discrimination, welcomed the passage of SB 403 by the California State Senate.

“Following our historic victory in Seattle in February, the California Senate voted to ban caste discrimination,” Sawant said.

“The bill now goes to the Assembly. Anti-caste activists, working people, union members, and my socialist council office built a struggle movement in Seattle for victory, generating national and even international momentum. Solidarity with all who fight against oppression in capitalism!” she said.

“On behalf of all Dalit Californians and caste-oppressed people around the world, we are thrilled that the California Senate passed Senate SB403. This is an achievement built on years of Dalit feminist organizing, and we are just beginning to make the state safe for our entire caste-oppressed community,” said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of Equality Labs and author of The Trauma of Caste”.

“We know we have a long way to go with this bill, but we made history with this vote and are proud to be working with the California Assembly on this historic bill!” Equality Labs thanks all partners in Californians for Caste Equity who have worked tirelessly to get us this far,” she said.

Tanuja Gupta, a law student, activist and former Google engineering program manager, said ending caste discrimination will soon no longer be an option for a California-based company like Google, but a legal requirement for its existence.

Deelip Mhaske, President of the Foundation For Human Horizon, congratulated State Senator Aisha Wahab on introducing the bill to the California Senate. “This is a victory for the Indian Constitution, which is based on the equality principle of Dr. BR Ambedkar based.” Mohammad Jawad, President of the Indian American Muslim Council, commended the California Senate for passing SB 403.

“This is a historic moment for the Dalit community, which has fought against caste discrimination for generations. The passage of this law is a clear signal that caste discrimination has no place in California. The bill will provide much-needed protections to Dalits and others who face caste discrimination,” he said.

“We urge the California Assembly to pass this bill immediately and call on Governor Newsom to put it into effect. We also call on other states and the US Congress to follow California’s lead in recognizing caste as a form of discrimination and taking action to combat it. “Caste discrimination is a violation of human rights and must be eliminated wherever it occurs,” said IAMC executive director Rasheed Ahmed.

(Except for the headline, this article was not edited by NDTV staff and is published via a syndicated feed.)

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