HomeWorldHeartbreak as California bill to ban caste discrimination faces veto

Heartbreak as California bill to ban caste discrimination faces veto

California Governor’s Veto of Caste Discrimination Bill Leaves Advocates Heartbroken


Advocates of a bill in California to ban caste discrimination were left heartbroken when Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the legislation. The bill, which aimed to be the first of its kind in the United States, faced intense debate and opposition from opponents who believed it would stigmatize the South Asian and Hindu communities. Despite the veto, supporters of the bill continue to fight for equality and an end to caste discrimination.

History of the Bill

California’s bill to ban caste discrimination gained significant attention and support from advocates who hoped it would set a precedent for other states. However, Governor Newsom’s veto dashed their hopes and left them devastated. The bill, officially known as Senate Bill 403 or SB 403, aimed to add caste as a protected class under the state’s existing anti-discrimination laws.

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Debate and Opposition

The bill faced intense debate and opposition from those who believed it was unnecessary, as existing laws already prohibit ancestry discrimination. Critics argued that the bill would stigmatize the entire South Asian and Hindu communities by implying that they were discriminatory. Advocates, on the other hand, argued that caste discrimination is a pervasive issue that needs to be addressed explicitly in the law.

Impact of Caste Discrimination

Caste discrimination has a profound impact on South Asian communities in the United States. Angana Chatterji, a scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, emphasized the pernicious hold of caste discrimination and the need for equality for all who are affected by casteism. Activists supporting the bill even resorted to a hunger strike to draw attention to the urgency of the issue.

Governor’s Veto

Governor Newsom vetoed the bill, citing existing laws that already prohibit ancestry discrimination. He deemed the bill unnecessary and stated that it did not provide any additional protections beyond what is already in place. The Hindu American Foundation, which opposed the bill, applauded the veto as a victory for the Hindu teachings and the existing laws against discrimination.

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Caste Discrimination as a Form of Oppression

The caste system, one of the world’s oldest forms of social stratification, grants privileges to upper castes while repressing lower castes. The Dalit community, the lowest rung of the Hindu caste system, has long been marginalized and treated as “untouchables.” Opponents of caste discrimination argue that it is no different from other forms of discrimination, such as racism, and should be explicitly outlawed.

Hopes for Equality

Supporters of the bill, including the civil rights organization Equality Labs, expressed their disappointment at the governor’s veto. They believe that caste-oppressed Californians deserve workplaces and schools free from discrimination and violence. The bill aimed to address the specific challenges faced by the South Asian and Hindu communities in California.


The veto of California’s caste discrimination bill has left advocates heartbroken but determined to continue their fight for equality. Although the bill did not become law, it sparked important conversations and highlighted the need for explicit protections against caste discrimination. The battle for equality and the eradication of caste-based discrimination in the United States continues.

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