Hindu Community Called To Action
Over one hundred and fifty community leaders, representing the 450,000 Hindus living in the capital, met last week in a school hall in North London to start the process of calling the Hindu community to action. The meeting, called by the Alliance of Hindu Organisations UK, was the first of three to be held over the next few weeks. The others will be held with the large Hindu communities in the Midlands and the North.
The meetings follow the decision by the House of Commons to bring forward legislation that will include caste within the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010. The Alliance has serious concerns about the consequences and practicality of such legislation and about the impact it may have on communities living within the UK.
Jayesh Jotangia, Barrister from the Hindu Lawyers Association and AHO spokesperson, said:
“For the first time in many years the Hindu community has come together in response to what they feel is an affront upon them by politicians and leaders of others faiths. Many intolerant, offensive and inaccurate comments have been made, in particular in the House of Lords, about the community and we are very angry about that.
The Hindu community shares the abhorrence widely felt about any instance of discrimination based on caste, but we are indignant that the issue has been pinned on the Hindu community when the government’s own research highlighted only one single example of such discrimination amongst 32 cases perpetrated almost entirely by those of other communities.
We accept that legislation will now happen and our concern is to ensure that it is properly consulted on and fully thought out. There are many potential difficulties with the proposals in terms of definitions, forced disclosure of caste identity and potential legal challenges.
Not content with the principle of legislation, the pro-legislation lobby now want to rush through legislation within a couple of months. This is a very sensitive and complex area and it is vital that a proper amount of time is taken to make sure that any legislation is well thought through and robust. It will take time to get this right.
Minister for Women and Equalities, Helen Grant MP, has accepted the need for a consultation period of up to two years and we want to make sure that the government delivers on this assurance. The Minister has also provided welcome assurances on the issues of definition of caste, the need to avoid disclosure of caste and a sunset clause to allow the removal of the legislation.
We are also backing an Early Day Motion that has been laid before the House of Commons and which we hope will have the support of a cross-party group of MPs. We are calling the Hindu community to action on this issue and to write to their MP and express their concerns and ask them to sign the EDM. “
The Hindu Community have already sent in an estimated 300 letters to MPs expressing their concerns over the legislation. Please sign the petition online or download a copy of the petition by visiting the AHO website: www.mycasteishindu.org
Early Day Motion 117 says:
“That this House notes the serious concerns expressed by the Hindu communities at the possible consequences of the provisions in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 relating to caste within the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010; and recognises the need to ensure a full and proper consultation period of at least two years with the affected communities, to address the issues they have raised about practical difficulties with the legislation.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
The Alliance of Hindu Organisations (AHO):
The Alliance of Hindu Organisations UK has been formed in response to the threat posed by this proposed amendment to the Equality Act 2010. The Alliance includes the following organisations that represent the vast majority of the 816,633 Hindus in the UK (2011 census figures):
- Hindu Council UK (HCUK)
- National Council of Hindu Temples UK (NCHTUK)
- Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB)
- City Hindus Network
- BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha UK
- International Society for Krishna Consciousness UK (ISKCON)
- Chinmaya Mission UK
- Hindu Lawyers Association UK (HLA)
- National Hindu Students Forum UK (NHSF)
- Nepalese Hindu Forum UK
- Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS)
- Vishwa Hindu Kendra, Southall UK
Please sign the petition online or download a copy of the petition by visiting the AHO website: www.mycasteishindu.org