Seattle Makes History With New Ban

Photo by Zhifei Zhou on Unsplash

( – On Tuesday, the Seattle City Council included a ban on caste discrimination in its anti-discrimination laws. With this move, they became the first U.S. city, and the first place outside of South Asia to pass a law against caste discrimination.

South Asian diaspora communities in the United States have called for discrimination against people based on caste to be banned in the United States. However, some Hindu Americans have claimed that any such legislation would be specifically targeting a community. On Tuesday, the disagreements in the community relating to the ban were palpable at Seattle City Hall. Following a noisy hearing, the majority of the council decided in a 6-1 vote that laws against caste discrimination were necessary for the U.S. to protect those suffering from such discrimination.

During the hearing, there were many activists from both sides visible, many of whom had slogans, banners, and loudspeakers to support their point of view. Most people attending were supporters of the law, while a vocal minority opposed it.

Following the council members voting in favor of the ban, chants of “Jai Bhim,” which means “victory for Bhim” could be heard. The chant is prevalent among followers of B.R. Ambedkar, an Indian Dalit rights icon who has been claiming that caste discrimination was prevalent in diaspora communities in the U.S. The Dalit groups have specifically noted that caste discrimination leads to social alienation and discrimination in sectors where South Asians have key roles and prevalence.

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