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California State Senate Passes Legislation To Ban Caste-Based Discrimination

The bill will now be tabled before the California State Assembly.

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The California State Senate on Thursday, 11 May, passed a legislation that outlaws caste-based discrimination in the state.

The bill, SB 403, that seeks to provide protection from harassment and discrimination on the basis of caste in matters such as employment and housing, was passed by a vote of 34-1.

The bill will now be tabled before the state Assembly.

If it gets passed in the Assembly, and is cleared by the Governor, California will become the first state in the United States to add caste as a protected category in its anti-discrimination laws.

Earlier this year, Seattle became the first-ever city in the US to pass a similar legislation.

The legislation will be a major victory for members of oppressed castes residing in the US as California is the largest state in the country in terms of population and size of the economy.

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The bill SB 403 was authored by California State Senator Aisha Wahab, and is being promoted by a number of Ambedkarite and anti-caste groups.

"We want to ensure organisations and companies do not entrench caste discrimination in their practices or policies, and in order to do that we need to make it plainly clear that discrimination based on caste is against the law," Wahab had said in March 2023.

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