Rastafarians are not an ethnic group, judges rule

Saturday 30 January 1993 00:02
Comments

RASTAFARIANS do not constitute a separate ethnic group for the purposes of the Race Relations Act, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.

The Campaign for Racial Equality had backed an appeal by Trevor Dawkins against the Department of the Environment.

In 1988, he was refused a van driver's job with Crown Suppliers (PSA) after he said in an interview that he would not cut off his dreadlocks. He took his case to an industrial tribunal which, after hearing expert evidence, accepted that Rastafarians constituted an ethnic group. It ruled he was refused the job on racial grounds and had been discriminated against under the Act. An employment appeal tribunal later reversed that decision.

Lord Meston, for the department, told three appeal judges that Rastafarians were no more than a relatively short-lived 'sect, cult or movement' with 'quasi-political and religious tenets'.

Lord Justice Neill, sitting with Lord Justice Beldam and Sir John Megaw, said Rastafarians did have a strong cultural tradition including distinctive music, reggae, and dreadlocks hairstyle.

But the crucial question was whether they had established a separate ethnic identity - whether they stood apart by reason of their history from other Jamaicans. Dismissing the appeal, he said Rastafarians had a shared history which 'goes back only 60 years or so'.

Mr Dawkins, 30, a bus driver from south-east London, later said he was disappointed with the decision. Chris Boothman, CRE legal director, said it would be considering an appeal to the House of Lords because of the wide implications of the case.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in