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UK Jewish groups don't want an ethnicity tick-box, dashing Sikh Federation hopes
By Barfi Culture Team
28th August 2018

British Jewish groups have said they oppose allowing people to tick their ethnicity as Jewish in the next UK Census.

It is likely to affect a campaign by some British Sikh groups to have a similar option for British Sikhs.

"Having had two censuses which only asked about Jewish affiliation by religion, we would be concerned that changing the question now might lead to a wild swing in numbers with people answering the census in very different ways to previously, making it very difficult to compare this with earlier results," a spokesperson for the British Board of Deputies told Jewish News.

"Being unable to compare the data would be a major setback to communal planning, so we have recommended against Judaism being included in the ethnicity question in the 2021 census. This is a matter which we will keep under review," the spokesperson added.

Why does this matter?


The Sikh Federation has been long campaigning for British Sikhs to be able to tick their 'ethnicity' as Sikh too. It has frequently cited a similar call by Jewish groups in support of its own campaign.

In the 1980s, as Sikhs highlighted discrimination they faced based on their turban (Lee Vs Mandla, 1982), and Jews highlighted anti-Semitism they faced, there was no law to help them. The Race Relations Act (1976) did not protect minorities from religious discrimination, only racial discrimination.

So public officials designated them partly as ethnic groups to deal with the religious discrimination they faced, rather than push for a new law. The Equality Act later outlawed discrimination on basis of religion.

This move is a u-turn by the British Board of Deputies, which had earlier supported an ethnicity option for British Jews. But Jewish sociologists had said the move would not bring any benefit to British Jews.

Groups such as the Network of Sikh Organisations are opposed to such a tick-box and to the campaign by the Sikh Federation.





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