Equality and Human Rights Framework

Equality and Human Rights Commission publishes new caste research

Monday 3 March 2014
New publications

On 28 February 2014 the Equality and Human Rights Commission published two new research reports which look into issues surrounding caste in Britain. 

Both reports are from the Commission’s Caste in Britain project which was undertaken at the request of government to help inform the introduction of a new statutory law. This followed the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 requirement that government introduce a statutory prohibition of caste discrimination into British equality law.

Key findings from the report to help inform this process include:

• Caste is a form of identity that is used as a basis for social differentiation, distinct from class, race or religion.

• Discrimination against an individual because of caste, including perception of caste, in education, employment, housing, business or public services cannot be tolerated and should be included in the protections against discrimination and harassment provided in the Equality Act 2010.

• However, the State should not intervene in cultural or social usages which are a matter of private practice. Therefore, in regulating in this area particular regard should be given to individuals’ rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. 

• The definition of caste should be neither too precise nor too broad.  A minimum definition of caste in terms of endogamy (marriage restricted within a specific group) inherited status and social stratification would be useful.  

• Businesses and public authorities will need clear and practical information about how the prohibition of caste discrimination will affect them. The Commission’s initial view is that the impact will be small given that the straightforward message remains that employers and service providers must not make decisions on the basis of irrelevant considerations such as caste.

Click on these links to read the reports: 

Research report 91 : Caste in Britain: Socio-legal Review

Research report 92: Caste in Britain: Experts' Seminar and Stakeholders' Workshop 

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