Skip Navigation

Equality Labs Congratulates California Democratic Party for Including Caste in its Code of Conduct

Sacramento, CA – The California Democratic Party made history this weekend by adding caste as a protected category to its Code of Conduct, making it the largest state political party in the country leading the way to address caste discrimination in the US.

The addition of caste as a protected category will not only ensure civil rights protections for caste oppressed members, employees, and all others associated with the CDP, but it will send a signal to the wider public that caste discrimination has no place in the U.S..

This vital step will further the dialogue across California, and the nation, to give caste discrimination the serious attention it deserves. Governments and institutions must make it a priority to build caste protections, competency, and investments to create a caste equitable society across the US.

Leaders in the fight for caste equity congratulate this monumental step in recognizing caste as a protected category.

Amar Singh Shergill, California Democratic Party Executive Board Member, Progressive Caucus Chair: “With the addition of caste protections to our Party Code of Conduct, the Democratic party recognizes that California must lead in the historical battle for caste equity and ensure we acknowledge the need for explicit legal protections for caste-oppressed Americans. We understand that protection from caste discrimination may be accessed under pre-existing categories of ancestry, religion, and race, yet many caste-oppressed people do not report discrimination because this explicit legal protection is not yet widely recognized. Like previous struggles to add protections for gender identity and sexual orientation, we believe adding caste protects all Americans. We are ensuring the most vulnerable know we value their rights. We hope our addition will inspire other institutions to bring remedy to the issue of caste discrimination in the US and urge all other state Democratic Parties to follow.”

Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Equality Labs’ Executive Director: “This is a powerful validation of the caste equity civil rights movement. Caste is so deeply alive in the diaspora and it impacts so many parts of the South Asian American experience. Our report showed the prevalence of caste discrimination with 1 out of 4 dalits experiencing physical assault, 2 out of 3 experiencing workplace discrimination, and 1 out of 3 experiencing discrimination in education. Our data and personal stories of caste oppressed people point to the urgency and need for caste equity.

California has been ground zero for this civil rights movement as we have seen the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing launch its historic case against the Cisco corporation. This was followed by 22 campuses in the California State University System demanding caste be added as a protected class. Justice cannot wait any longer for caste oppressed Americans.

The Democratic party is leading the conversation by recognizing that caste oppressed Americans deserve protection and that the time for its addition in all American institutions is long overdue. We look forward to continuing to work with even more elected officials around the state and the country.”

Will Jamil Wiltschko of the California Trade Justice Coalition: “Freedom from caste discrimination is clearly a workers rights issue. We welcome the addition of caste based protections to the code of conduct. We cannot allow for caste oppressed Americans to continue to be exploited in workplaces, educational institutions, and businesses. This is a significant step forward for all people in California who face discrimination based on caste. Caste oppression is worker oppression, plain and simple. We have to stand up for working people and make caste a protected category.”

Govind Acharya of Amnesty International USA: “The addition of caste based protections is crucial as the United States ratified international human rights treaties that require us to be committed to protections of all marginalized people. It is important to extend the existing protections for caste oppressed communities and make them explicit. Protections for caste oppressed communities are a vital global human rights issue and it is time that California once again leads the nation in making human rights history.”