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Caste Discrimination Consultation

Volume 616: debated on Thursday 27 October 2016

4. What progress the Government have made on the publication of its caste discrimination consultation. (906856)

We have said we will issue a public consultation on how best to provide legal protection against caste discrimination later this year. My hon. Friend takes this issue very seriously and represents his local communities views and concerns in respect of it.

I thank my right hon. Friend for her answer. In excess of 85% of British Hindus consider having caste as a protected characteristic in equality legislation unnecessary, ill-considered and divisive. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that in the forthcoming consultation she will look at all measures, including the abolition of caste as a protected characteristic in the legislation?

This will be an open consultation. We know and understand how sensitive and emotive this subject is, and that there are very strong opinions on both sides of it. We need to look at the best and necessary level of legal protection against caste discrimination, and the findings of that consultation will help inform us on what to do to provide the appropriate legal protection.

In the consultation process, will the Minister outline what steps have been taken by diplomats, ambassadors and embassies to combat caste discrimination, and is there an estimate of the success of these steps?

My old Department, the Department for International Development, working hand in hand with the Foreign Office does huge work not only to advocate but to take action on the ground to help groups fighting for equality, including fighting against caste discrimination. We do that in the countries where it is most prevalent. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, these are generational issues that take time steadily to shift, but we believe we need to keep pushing on them to move things forward.