IAMC Statement on California Senate Vote on Anti-Caste Discrimination Bill
The Indian American Muslim Council commends the California Senate for taking yet another historic step towards protecting Dalits and caste-oppressed people by passing Senate Bill 403 (SB403) with a vote of 34 to 1 today.
Introduced by California Senator Aisha Wahab, SB403 adds caste as a protected category to an existing law, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which provides that all people in the state of California are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments.
Despite the flood of threats and hatred faced by Senator Wahab for introducing this bill, massive numbers of people from both the Dalit community and their allies have come forth to support this legislation and to ensure that California tackles the deep-rooted issue of caste discrimination in Silicon Valley, the state’s university system, and beyond.
This landmark moment comes just weeks after the California Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed SB403 in April. It also follows the Seattle City Council’s historic 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 California State University system, the Alphabet Workers Union, tech giants like Apple and Cisco, and others.
Our nation is waking up to the ugly reality of caste discrimination, which is the world’s oldest form of discrimination. This form of discrimination has no place in America’s workplaces, schools, and places of worship.
“We commend 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 others who face discrimination based on their caste,” said IAMC President Mohammad Jawad.
“We urge the California Assembly to pass this bill without delay, and for 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 steps to address it. Discrimination based on caste is a violation of human rights and must be eradicated wherever it exists,” said IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed.
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