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Thursday, June 13, 2024

California passes ban on caste-based discrimination

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California lawmakers on Tuesday voted to outlaw discrimination primarily based on caste, including protections for folks of South Asian descent who say they’ve been neglected of conventional American safeguards for equity in employment and housing.

The invoice — the primary of its sort within the U.S. — now heads to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who should resolve whether or not to signal it into regulation.

Caste is an historical, complicated system that regulates folks’s social standing primarily based on their start. It’s primarily related to India and Hinduism, however caste-based divisions are additionally present in different faiths and nations.

State and federal legal guidelines already ban discrimination primarily based on intercourse, race and faith. California’s civil rights regulation goes additional by outlawing discrimination primarily based on issues like medical situations, genetic info, sexual orientation, immigration standing and ancestry.

Tuesday, the state Senate voted 31-5 to approve a invoice that will redefine “ancestry” to incorporate “lineal descent, heritage, parentage, caste, or any inherited social standing.” The invoice was authored by state Sen. Aisha Wahab, the primary Muslim and Afghan-American girl elected to the state Legislature.

“Caste discrimination won’t be tolerated in California,” she stated.

India has banned caste discrimination since 1948, the yr after it received independence from Nice Britain. Lately, South Asians have been pushing for caste protections on the U.S. Many main U.S. schools and universities have added caste to their non-discrimination insurance policies, together with the College of California and California State College methods. In February, Seattle grew to become the primary U.S. metropolis to ban discrimination primarily based on caste.

Now, California might turn out to be the primary state to take action. The invoice simply handed the Legislature, with just a few dissenting votes. However the proposal provoked an intense response from the state’s South Asian neighborhood. A public listening to on the invoice this summer season lasted hours as tons of of individuals lined up across the Capitol to testify for and towards the invoice.

Opponents argued the invoice is unfair as a result of it solely applies to folks in a caste-based system. A letter to state lawmakers from the Hindu American Basis earlier this yr fearful that South Asians may very well be “pressured to reply intrusive questions on or be judged for who they’re married to.”

“This invoice targets Hindus and east Indians,” stated state Sen. Shannon Grove, a Republican from Bakersfield who voted towards the invoice on Tuesday.

California lawmakers are within the ultimate two weeks of the legislative session. Lawmakers have till Sept. 14 to behave on almost 1,000 payments. When lawmakers end, Newsom can have a month to resolve whether or not to signal these payments into regulation.

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