Government reforms (1): Discrimination – ‘caste’ out

Discrimination Dictionary Definition

What do we already know?

We updated you in our August 2017 Newsletter Government reforms (2): Discrimination – consultation on caste that the Government was consulting on whether to:

  • prohibit caste discrimination through case law; or
  • specify caste as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010.

The consultation closed on 18 September 2017.


What’s new?

The Government Equalities Office has published its response to the consultation on caste, available here.

The Government has decided not to legislate and instead to rely on emerging case law. Caste will therefore not be made an aspect of race for discrimination purposes under the Equality Act 2010. The Government concluded that:

  • defining ‘caste’ within the legislation would be complex and leave it open to a variety of interpretations;
  • having a specific protection for caste may in reality lead to protection for social class between individuals rather than something linked to their racial background; and
  • allowing case law to define what caste means, would enable judges to decide on a case by case basis whether the reason for any less favourable treatment was race as opposed to someone’s class.

This decision also reflects the responses to the consultation:

  • 8,513 respondents were ‘in favour of relying on case-law’
  • 2,885 respondents were ‘in favour of legislation’
  • 3,588 respondents rejected both options.

These responses were provided by employers, service providers and public authorities, among others.


Discrimination Dictionary Definition