New York State bans use of 'Oriental' term
PTI 10 September 2009, 12:22pm IST
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NEW YORK: New York Governor David Paterson on Wednesday signed into law a bill that bans use of term "Oriental" in documents used by state agencies,
public authorities and municipalities when referring to persons of Asian or Pacific islander heritage.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Grace Meng and Senator Craig Johnson, was earlier unanimously passed by both houses of the New York State.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Paterson said that New York State champions the rights of immigrants and "I wonder why it was not passed earlier".
Assemblywoman Grace Meng said the word "Oriental" is derogatory and offensive in the category of race. No state agency, public authority or municipality shall use the term "Oriental" to identify or denote persons of Asian or Pacific islander heritage, she said.
The word Oriental has been used with negative connotations. New World College Dictionary says that when used to describe a person as "Oriental" it denotes a sense of disparagement.
Parveen Chopra, who was invited by the Governor to witness the signing of this bill, said it will remove another way of expressing bias or prejudice in government establishments and records and will help Asian-Americans to live bias free fuller life like all other Americans.
"There must be equity and balance in justice system for all Americans. Eliminating the use of word "Oriental" in criminal justice services will free the system of its bias," said Chopra who served as a Commissioner of Human Rights for two decades and currently serves on the New York Civil Liberties Board.