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as are normally offered by the provider in question.  For example, entertainment and recreation; professional services; the services of any local or other public authority; facilities for transport or travel; facilities for grants; and access to, and use of, public places.

S35 SDA (margin note)


It is permissible, however, to limit the provision of facilities or services to one sex in the following circumstances:

Hospitals or establishments providing special care, supervision or attention.   This would apply, for example, to nursing homes or psychiatric institutions. Women’s refuges might fall within this exception if they were providing ‘special care, supervision or attention’ comparable to that provided at a hospital, as would rape crisis centres if they were providing medical or psychiatric care.  The provision of housing for women with specific care support needs might also fall within this exception.   

Facilities or services where female users are likely to suffer serious embarrassment at the presence of a man (or vice versa).  This exception potentially covers services such as group counselling or advice about matters such as sexual health, sexual offences or intimate personal health or hygiene; rape crisis centres and women’s refuges may fall within this exception if they involve group provision of services involving intimate personal matters.  The criterion of ‘embarrassment’ is likely to restrict coverage of the exception to situations involving intimate personal matters.  Single-sex swimming or exercise sessions could potentially be covered by this section if it could be shown that users are likely to suffer serious embarrassment if users of the opposite sex are present.

Places where the users are likely to be in a state of undress and might reasonably object to the presence of the opposite sex, such as facilities for separate male and female changing rooms and any group service involving intimate personal health and hygiene.

Where physical contact is likely and people may reasonably object to contact with the opposite sex.  This exception is likely to cover sports sessions involving a high degree of physical contact such as judo or wrestling, self-defence classes or group sessions in massage.  The objection must be 'reasonable' and a low degree of physical contact is likely to be found to be unreasonable.  For example, the fact that in first aid training there may be some physical contact between users is unlikely to mean that s35(2) permits the provision of single-sex sessions.   

Sport and communal accommodation

S44 SDA Sport (margin note)


Competitive sporting activities can be restricted to one sex, where the average woman's physical strength puts her at a disadvantage to the average man.  This is intended to allow separate sporting events where the physical differences between women and men render competition unfair.  Where the sports sessions are not related to participation in competitions, it is not lawful to restrict them to one sex (unless another exception

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