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applies, for example on the grounds of reasonable objection to physical contact, as detailed above).


A local authority or school holding separate football training sessions for boys and girls could rely on section 44 SDA, provided that these were held with the formation of a team and participation in matches in mind.  Sports sessions which do not relate to participation in competitions restricted to competitors of one sex will not be covered by s44 and will not be excluded (unless another exception applies, for example a reasonable objection to physical contact).  

S46 SDA  Communal Accommodation (margin note)


In certain circumstances it is lawful to discriminate in admission to communal accommodation, for reasons of privacy or decency related to the sleeping accommodation or the sanitary facilities.  In considering whether this amounts to fair and equitable treatment of men and women, however, account must be taken of whether it is reasonable to expect the accommodation to be altered or further accommodation provided, and the frequency of demand or need for the accommodation.       

The exercise of public functions

S21A(1) SDA (margin note)


Discrimination law has always applied to public authority providers of employment, education, housing and other services, as long as these services are of a similar kind to those that may be supplied by a private person. Case law established, however, that the SDA did not apply to acts done on behalf of the Crown that were of an entirely different kind from any act that would ever be done by a private person.  The law has now changed, and Section 21A amends the SDA so that discrimination or harassment are prohibited when public authorities are carrying out public functions as well as when they are providing services to the public.


Section 21A applies to acts that a private person cannot do, such as:

formulating or carrying out public policy (for example, devising policies and priorities in health, education and transport etc. or making decisions on the allocation of public money).

exercising regulatory or law enforcement powers (for example: police powers relating to stop and search, arrests and detection of suspects; the regulatory and law enforcement powers of bodies such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs; local authority licensing functions; tax inspection and collection; trading standards activities).

the exercise of a statutory duty or statutory powers or discretion in certain circumstances (for example, a Secretary of State refusing to give leave to enter or remain under immigration provisions).  


Where the exercise of a statutory duty also entails providing a service (such as a local authority looking after children) it would not usually fall within s21A but will fall under the 'goods, facilities or services' provisions (see above and further below).

The relationship between SDA s21A (public functions) and s29 (goods, facilities or services)

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