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The current definition of race in section 9 of the Equalitydefinition Act 2010 refers only to colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. Section 9 (5) of the 2010 Act gives Ministers the power to add caste as an aspect of race, through secondary legislation.
In a written ministerial statement published on 1 March this year the government stated that it would not extend protection under the 2010 Act to caste, preferring to deal with the issue informally through an educational programme.
However, following strong lobbying, the Government changed position. The wording of section 9(5) of the 2010 Act will be changed from 'the Minister may...' to 'the Minister must...' , meaning protection against caste discrimination will be added to the Equality Act.
The new amendment includes a power for the Minister to review implementation of the provision after at least five years, and amend or repeal the provision on the basis of this review.