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Seattle becomes first US city to ban caste-based discrimination


Provision comes amid calls for change from South Asian diaspora communities but faces opposition from some Hindu Americans

Seattle has become the first city in the US to ban caste-based discrimination, after council members voted on Tuesday to add the provision to the city’s anti-bias laws. Calls to outlaw discrimination based on caste, a division of people based on birth or descent, have grown louder among South Asian diaspora communities. Proponents of the ordinance, which was approved by a 6-1 vote, say without such laws, those facing caste discrimination in the US will have no protections. But the move is also contentious, and has seen opposition from some Hindu Americans who argue that such legislation maligns a community that is already the target of prejudice. Activists and organizers on different sides of the issue began arriving in Seattle on Monday. As early as last week, more than 100 people had put in requests to speak at the meeting. Early Tuesday, several activists braved cold temperatures and wind gusts to line up outside city hall so they would get a chance to speak to the council before the vote.