Tuesday

16th Aug 2022

EU sexual equality law to hit golf clubs

Golf clubs with one set of rules for men and another for women will fall foul of EU law from December 2007 onward, the European Commission has confirmed.

The legal opinion issued Wednesday (4 December) implies that mixed clubs will have to put an end to male-only bars and time-limits on how long female members can play.

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But Irish and UK press say a loophole will allow people to run male only clubs under a "freedom of association" clause.

"There might be some reactionary, neanderthal men who may form more such [single-sex] clubs, but if they do, I think they'll have a rather miserable existence, because mixed golf is more fun", UK civil rights lawyer Lord Lester of Herne Hill told the Telegraph.

The Irish Independent writes that the commission's legal opinion might be used in an appeal against the historic Portmarnock Golf Club in Ireland.

The club lets women play but does not offer them full membership status.

Brussels issued its opinion following a question from Irish MEP Proinsias de Rossa.

The 2004 directive on "equal treatment between men and women in...goods and services" enters into force on 21 December 2007, obliging member states to produce a status report in 2010.

A proposal for the directive drawn up in 2003 justified EU action on the grounds that the mixed bag of anti-discrimination laws across member states did not offer adequate protection.

The law initially targeted sexual discrimination in taxation and insurance.

"Companies do not in general instruct their employees to treat men and women differently. Discrimination is much more likely to occur in the context of the spontaneous behaviour of individuals, either by withholding a good or a service or providing it on less favourable terms and conditions to members of one sex than the other", the legal proposal stated.

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