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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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What are the legal rules for equality of membershipm to Social

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What are the legal rules for equality of membershipm to Social Club (Male/Female

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What type of club exactly are you referring to please?

Social Club affiliated to the CIU at the moment Mainly men with women as social mebers at a reduced subscription rate and limited privileges.

Ben Jones :

Good evening. Whilst there are elaborate anti-discrimination laws in operation in the UK, there are certain exceptions when it comes to private members’ clubs. It is actually not unlawful for a genuine private members’ club (such as a working men’s club) to discriminate on the grounds of someone's sex in the way that it treats its members.


Therefore, it is legal for such private clubs to have different types of membership which are restricted to one sex only or to offer different privileges for different genders.


A very good guide on the laws dealing with this can be found here:


The relevant section is on pages 19-20, where you will see that if a club is designated as a specific gender’s club, they are legally able to restrict their membership to that specific gender when it comes to membership. So for example a working men’s club can restrict its membership to men only, however they cannot then go on to say that only white men can join, excluding black members. As long as the limitations are kept to gender only, then that would be lawful.


Thanks.We,do at the moment accecpt ladies as social members in order to take part in the Bingo sessions,this does not give them entitlement to the benefits of a full male member.Should we be altering our Rules to offer them full membership if they so wish?Does this meet with legal requirements?

Ben Jones :

What is the actual purpose of the club, is it just a social club for men basically?


That is correct.

Ben Jones :

It would not be necessary to amend the rules - this is a men's social club and you can restrict membership to men only, either by fully denying membership to women or allowing them reduced benefits. But if you had said, you will restrict membership to black women, then that would be unlawful.


Does that meet with the CIU Rules ?

Ben Jones :

that would not be a legal matter unfortunately so I cannot comment on it - it is an internal matter for the CIU

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks
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