Consultation response on caste discrimination

09 August 2018

The government has published its response to a public consultation about how to ensure that there is appropriate and proportionate legal protection against unlawful discrimination because of caste.

As the result of a 2013 amendment to section 9 (5) (a) of the Equality Act 2010, a duty exists to introduce specific legal protection against discrimination because of caste, by making caste an aspect of race for the purposes of the Act. However, the subsequent judgment of an Employment Appeal Tribunal [EAT] in the Tirkey v Chandhok case in 2014 established that many of the facts relevant in considering caste in many of its forms might be equally capable of being considered as part of a person’s ethnic origins, which is already part of the existing race provisions within the Act.

The consultation (March to September 2017) invited views on whether suitable legal protection against caste discrimination is better ensured by exercising the duty or by relying on emerging case-law under the Act as developed by courts and tribunals.

The government has published its response, concluding against the further legislation, preferring to rely on developments in case law (over half of the respondents to the consultation were in favour of this option).

The government has therefore committed to repealing the duty, under the amended section 9 of the Equality Act, to legislate to prohibit caste discrimination.