Ministers in UK Government Draft New Anti- Discrimination Legislation
The United Kingdom government published today a consultation document that included proposals for a Single Equality Bill that will cover England, Wales, and Scotland. The legislation aims to modernize the current sex, race, and religious discrimination laws currently contained in nine major pieces of legislation, 90 statutory instruments, and various guidance documents. A government statement said that the Single Equality Bill will remove "barriers to fairness" by synthesizing the rules.
Clubs that restrict women's entrance, like golf clubs and gentlemen's clubs, would be affected by the proposed laws. While the legislation would not ban single-sex clubs, it would require private clubs to give women equal rights. Currently, women can only become associate or second-class members at certain clubs, which carries a lower subscription fee but grants limited access.
In the US, feminists have long fought to open up men-only clubs to women. In 2003, the National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO), led by then-chair Martha Burk, led a protest of the Augusta National Golf club, which denies membership to women. Billy Payne, the club's chair, has stated that he will uphold the all-men tradition. Burk is currently leading a campaign to raise public awareness about the companies that sponsor the Master's Golf Tournament, which is played every year at Augusta, and the CEOs that maintain Augusta memberships, even if doing so violates their companies' anti-discrimination laws.
The proposed changes to UK law also include proposals to aid disabled tenants by improving access to and use of communal areas. New mothers would also have the legal right to breastfeed in restaurants, shops, and on public transportation.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily News Wire 5/10/07; BBC News 6/12/07; PRNewswire 6/12/07; CNN.com 6/12/07