In a historic move, the California State Senate on Thursday passed legislation banning caste-based discrimination in the state.
Passed by a vote of 34 to 1, the bill – SB 403, would make California the first US state to add caste as a protected category in its anti-discrimination laws. Proponents of the bill, led by the nonprofit Equality Lab, said a similar bill was being introduced in the state House of Representatives, before it could be sent to the governor. to be enacted into law.
Introduced by California Senator Aisha Wahab, SB 403 adds caste as a protected category to an existing law, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which provides that all persons in the State of California have the right to housing, benefits , full and equal facilities and privileges. , or services in all commercial establishments.
SB 403 provides explicit protections to those who have been systematically harmed due to prejudice and caste bias. It also provides strong legal consequences for those who seek to avoid liability or ramifications for enabling or participating in caste discrimination and caste-based violence.
This landmark bill comes just weeks after the California Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed SB403 in April. It also follows historic Seattle City Council legislation banning caste discrimination earlier this year, as well as resolutions to designate caste as a protected category passed by the California Democratic Party, the University System of California, the Alphabet Workers Union, tech giants like Apple and Cisco, and others.
Seattle Councilman Kshama Sawant, who helped Seattle become the first city to pass anti-caste discrimination legislation, hailed the passage of SB 403 by the California State Senate.
“After our historic victory in Seattle in February, the California Senate voted to ban caste discrimination,” Sawant said.
“The bill now goes to the Assembly. Anti-caste activists, workers, union members and my Socialist Council office built a fight-to-win movement in Seattle, creating national and even international momentum. Solidarity to all who fight oppression under capitalism! she says.
“On behalf of all California Dalits and caste-oppressed people around the world, we are thrilled that the California Senate has passed Senate SB403. This is a victory rooted in years of Dalit feminist organizing, and we we are just beginning to make the state safe for all of our caste-oppressed community,” said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of Equality Labs and author of The Trauma of Caste.
“We know we have a long way to go with this bill, but we made history with this vote and we are proud to look forward to working with the California Assembly on this historic bill. ! Equality Labs thanks all of the Caste Equity partners in California who have worked tirelessly to get us this far,” she said.
Tanuja Gupta, a law student, activist and former head of Google’s engineering program, says ending caste discrimination will soon no longer be an opt-in for a California-based company like Google, but a legal requirement. of its existence.
Deepip Mhaske, president of the Foundation For Human Horizon, praised State Senator Aisha Wahab for introducing the bill to the California Senate. “This is a victory for the Indian Constitution framed by Dr BR Ambedkar’s principle of equality.” Indian American Muslim Council President Mohammad Jawad praised the California Senate for passing SB 403.
“This is a historic moment for the Dalit community, which has been fighting against caste-based discrimination for generations. The passage of this bill sends a strong message that caste discrimination has no place in California. The bill will provide much-needed protection to Dalits and other victims of caste-based discrimination,” he said.
“We urge the California Assembly to pass this bill without delay and Governor Newsom to sign it into law. We also call on other states and the US Congress to follow California’s lead in recognizing caste discrimination as a form of discrimination and taking action to address it. Caste-based discrimination is a violation of human rights and must be eradicated wherever it exists,” said ADRIC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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