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The Equality Act 2010: What it means for clubs

The Equalities Act 2010 replaced numerous pieces of anti-discrimination legislation under one Act and protects people from discrimination on the basis of ‘protected characteristics’.

The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate, harass or victimise or carry out any other unlawful act because of a protected characteristic. This applies to private clubs or other associations that:

  • has 25 or more members, and
  • has rules (not necessarily formal or written) regulating who can be a member and there is a genuine selection process for members

The Act defines the following as protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race – this includes ethnic or national origins, colour and nationality
  • Religion or belief – this includes lack of belief
  • Sex, and
  • Sexual orientation

Under the Act, it is unlawful for a private club or other association to discriminate against, harass or victimise an existing or potential member, associate or guest. 

A club cannot refuse membership, or grant membership on less favourable terms (such as by applying different conditions or fees) because the person has a protected characteristic.