California’s legislature has made strides to combat caste discrimination by passing Senate Bill (SB) 403.
The bill seeks official protection against caste-based prejudice, garnering support in the California Assembly with a 55-3 vote, and previously in the Senate with a 34-1 majority.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a Dalit community and civil rights activist, praised the bill as a “win for the ages.” Soundararajan, a key figure behind Equality Labs, emphasized the significance of caste equity protections, recounting personal experiences with caste discrimination in California.
The Ambedkar Association of North America (AANA) lauded the Assembly’s decision, stressing the necessity of addressing caste prejudice, which impacts several sectors, including education and housing.
However, the bill has faced opposition. Organizations like the Coalition of Hindus of North America believe SB 403 may promote bias against Hindus and Indian-descendants, labeling the bill’s passage as a “black day.”
The legislation now returns to the Senate due to Assembly amendments. Once approved, it awaits the governor’s assent to become law. If passed, California will pioneer as the first US state to ban caste discrimination, hopefully preventing failure to hire issues, following Seattle’s lead earlier this year.
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