Special rules for Sports Clubs

Sports clubs which are associations in equality law can organise separate sporting activities for men and women if they choose to where:

  • physical strength, stamina or physique are major factors in determining success or failure, and 
  • one sex is generally at a disadvantage in comparison with the other.

Separate competition for girls and boys may or may not be permitted, depending on the age and stage of development of the children who will be competing.

For example:

A local running club has separate senior male and female 100 metre races. This would be lawful. The same club has mixed junior races up to the age of 12 as there is no real difference in strength and stamina between the boys and girls.

You must not restrict the participation of a transsexual person in such competitions unless this is strictly necessary to uphold fair or safe competition. In other words, treat a transsexual person as belonging to the sex in which they present (as opposed to the physical sex they were born with) unless there is evidence that they have an unfair advantage, or there is a risk to the safety of competitors which might occur in some close-contact sports.

Sports teams can continue to select on the basis of nationality, place of birth or residence if the competitor or team is representing a country, place, area or related association or because of the rules of the competition.

More information

Last Updated: 28 Jun 2010