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Men-only clubs face crackdown

Story Highlights

• UK Government sets out proposals to stop clubs discriminating against women
• Gentlemen's clubs and golf clubs would be affected by the rule change
• Proposals would affect other equality loopholes, including disabled access
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LONDON, England -- The UK Government has unveiled proposals to stop golf clubs and other private establishments from treating women as "second class" members.

The move, contained in a green paper on discrimination rules, could potentially affect traditional gentlemen's clubs including The Carlton Club in London, which only grants women "half member" status.

However, ministers made it clear they did not intend to prevent people from setting up clubs exclusively for one gender or social group.

A source at the Department for Communities and Local Government told the UK Press Association: "We firmly believe that people being treated as second class citizens when a club is open to all is simply not on.

"For example, there are still golf clubs which restrict the times their female members can have access to club facilities or play during the day or bar them from being part of the running of the club."

In May, the Carlton Club, a bastion of Britain's Conservative Party, voted against a bid to allow women to become full members, despite pressure from the modernizing Tory leadership.

Men are allowed full membership after being proposed and seconded by current members.

Women can become associate members, paying a lower subscription entitling them to use some of the facilities.

Carlton Club rules state that leaders of the Conservative Party are granted automatic membership. So when Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, the club declared she could have equal status.

The club subsequently began admitting other women into the building, but only as "half members."

The proposals announced on Tuesday will also address other equality loopholes, including the fact that landlords are not obliged to ensure communal areas in flats can be used by disabled people.

UK discrimination law is currently contained in nine major pieces of legislation and various guidance documents.

The British government says it believes that bringing the rules together in a Single Equality Bill would remove "barriers to fairness."

The proposals would affect golf clubs which restrict the hours women are allowed to play.


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