The Muirfield golf club, which staged the Open Championship, is among a number of men only golf clubs in the UK. Harriet Harman is urging a ban on male-only sports clubs, saying it is embarrassing the UK’s most prestigious golf tournament is happening at a club that does not admit female members.
Several leading politicians have refused to attend the event in protest, the Deputy Labour Leader said ministers must go further and amend equality laws to stop “discrimination” by private clubs.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Culture Secretary Maria Miller are among those effectively boycotting the four-day tournament in East Lothian in support of Harman’s comments.
The law currently permits private associations, such as golf clubs, to continue to determine their own membership rules. This “loophole” in the 2010 Equality Act legislation, which strengthened protections against discrimination on the basis of gender, age, race and sexual orientation, is the issue Harman wishes to take action against.
The R&A, which organises the tournament, said just 1% of the UK’s 3,000 golf clubs have a single sex membership policy. Peter Dawson, the body’s chief executive, has said the practice is “perfectly legal” but acknowledged the existence of male-only golf clubs is becoming “increasingly difficult” and “divisive”.
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