California introduces Bill to ban caste discrimination
If the bill is passed, California would become the first US state to outlaw the practice.
A California legislator on Thursday introduced a Bill to ban caste discrimination, reported the Associated Press. If the bill is passed, California would become the first US state to ban the practice.
The Bill was introduced by Democratic party’s state senator Aisha Wahab, who is the first Muslim and Afghan-American to be elected to the state legislature. Wahab said that caste discrimination was a matter of social justice and civil rights.
“People came to this country so they can be free and can pursue their American dream without any disruption to their lives,” she said. Wahab represents a district in north California that has a large number of South Asians who work in technology firms, according to the BBC.
“I have had friends tell me that their parents immigrated to this country because they belong to different castes and [their] families weren’t accepting of that,” she told the BBC.
Discrimination based on the Hindu caste system has prevailed among South Asians working in technology companies in the United States, reported the Washington Post. Last year, Google had cancelled a talk about caste discrimination by Equality Labs founder and executive director, Thenmozhi Soundararajan. The talk was cancelled after some South Asian employees at the technology company had claimed reverse discrimination and said supporting Dalit rights was Hindu-phobic.
“I am not legislating anyone’s personal practice of their faith or what happens in their places of worship,” she told the Washington Post. “This is about ensuring caste discrimination does not further entrench itself in our workplaces and education system.”
In October, two Hindu professors had filed a lawsuit against California State for adding caste to its anti-discrimination policy.
The development comes a month after Seattle became the first city in the United States to ban caste discrimination. The city’s local council had voted to add caste to its non-discrimination laws. The council had taken the vote on the resolution moved by Kshama Sawant, Seattle’s only Indian-American city councillor.
While introducing the Bill had said that South Asian Americans face caste discrimination in employment, education and housing in the country. However, the move had also received backlash from some senators of the Indian origin. Ohio state Senator Niraj Antani from the Republican party had called it anti-Hindu.
Meanwhile, the Harvard University has also amended its policy to make caste discrimination unlawful in the campus from September 1, 2023.