Anti-caste discrimination legislation introduced for the first time in the United States

26 January 2023

On 24 January, Kshama Sawant, a member of the city council in Seattle, in the United States, proposed a draft ordinance prohibiting caste discrimination. If approved by the city council, this ordinance will become the first such law against casteism in the US, and would set a critical precedent in recognising caste as an exclusionary system in a country with a vast Indian diaspora. 

In her statement proposing the legislation, Sawant noted that Washington, where Seattle is located, is home to more than one hundred and sixty-seven thousand South Asians. Sawant said that the region’s elected officials have a “political and moral obligation to address caste discrimination and not allow it to remain invisible and unaddressed.” The ordinance asks to ban caste discrimination in workplaces, housing as well as public spaces such as transport, hotels, public restrooms and retail establishments. 

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    Aathira Konikkara is a staff writer at The Caravan.

    Anandita Chandra is the social media and audience editor at The Caravan.

    Keywords: Caste in the United States Cisco caste-discrimination case Casteism