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California One Step Closer to Banning ‘Caste’ Discrimination World News

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The Judiciary Committee of the California State Assembly passed a bill Wednesday aimed at “prohibiting discrimination based on caste.” If the bill passes Congress, California will become the first state in the U.S. to have such a law, according to local media reports. The bill, known as Senate Bill 403, incorporated “caste as a protected class” into the Unruh Civil Rights Act and fair housing and employment laws.

The bill will now go to the Appropriations Committee, where they vote on bills with financial implications. (File) (AP)

Proponents of California’s Lower Caste Protected Classes Act argue that caste discrimination has led to wage underpayment, prejudice and sometimes even harassment at work. The bill will now go to the Appropriations Committee, where they vote on bills with financial implications. Once approved by the Appropriations Committee, it will move to Parliament for a full vote.

Reactions for and against the bill

according to ABC10 ReportAbout 15 percent of California’s population is Asian American, according to the California Public Policy Institute. There are concerns within the South Asian community about the bill’s potential fallout, although some see it as a positive step.

The report further stated that supporters of the bill believe that the bill is “extremely important because the issue of caste affects not only Asians, but also Somalis, Nigerians and Japanese.”

A Hindu Union of North America board member said, “The bill has the opposite intended effect and actually makes them targets of discrimination.”

Seattle becomes first U.S. city to ban ‘caste discrimination’

In February of this year, Seattle incorporated caste discrimination into its anti-discrimination law, becoming the first city in the United States to ban caste discrimination. This decision was influenced by several incidents that revealed the presence of caste in South Asian communities in the United States. Those incidents included a major case in which a former employee of tech giant Cisco filed a lawsuit alleging bias and discrimination based on his caste status. Additionally, the FBI raided a temple construction site in New Jersey following allegations of exploitation and abuse of Dalit workers.

Seattle’s move to ban caste-based discrimination has the backing of groups led by activists such as the Equality Lab, according to the Associated Press. However, groups such as the American Hindu Foundation and the Hindu Federation of North America have raised objections.

Seattle’s decision follows Brandeis University’s decision in December 2019 to become the first U.S. university to include caste in its nondiscrimination policy. In addition, the Cal State University system, Colby College, Brown University and UC Davis have implemented similar measures.

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