Guidance published for providers of single-sex services

5 Apr 2022 11:28 AM

A practical guide to the law in relation to single-sex spaces was yesterday published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The guidance helps service providers to make lawful decisions about any services they offer to women and men separately, by explaining the permitted sex and gender reassignment exceptions in the Equality Act 2010.

It advises organisations such as hospitals, retailers, hospitality and sports clubs to put in place policies that are both legal and balance the needs of different groups.

The guidance confirms that service providers wishing to limit services to a single sex are legally able to do so, provided the reasons are justified and proportionate.

Providers can also choose to open their services to all groups. This can be legal too. The guidance helps providers to understand how to put legal policies in place that best meet the needs of all their service users.

Key areas of the guidance set out:

The guidance does not address the wider debate on sex and gender identity. It clarifies the law for service providers, as has been called for by various stakeholders, including the Women and Equalities Committee in Parliament.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, yesterday said:

“Our mission at the EHRC is to protect the rights of everyone and ensure that people across Britain are treated fairly.

“There is no place for discrimination against anyone based on their sex or gender reassignment.

“Where rights between groups compete, our duty as an independent regulator is to help providers of services and others to balance the needs of different users in line with the law.

“Organisations are legally allowed to restrict services to a single sex in some circumstances. But they need help to navigate this sensitive area. That is why we have published this guidance – to clarify the law and uphold everyone’s rights.”

Press contact details

For more press information contact the Commission's media office on:

0161 829 8102