What equality law means for your membership of an association

Membership just for people who share a protected characteristic

An association (except for a political party) may, if it chooses to, restrict its membership to people who share a protected characteristic. 

For example:

  • A club for deaf people can restrict membership to people who are deaf and would not need to admit people with other disabilities, such as a blind person.
  • An association of blind people of a particular ethnic origin, such as Chinese, could restrict its membership to people who belong to both these groups.
  • A gardening club for men does not have to admit women as members.
  • An association for Christian women does not have to admit women of beliefs other than Christianity, nor does it have to admit men whether Christian or of any other belief.

But membership must not be solely on the basis of someone’s colour. For example, an association cannot say it will only accept white people or black people as members, and cannot offer different terms of membership on the basis of colour. 

More information

Last Updated: 26 Jul 2010