Which "wins"? Single-sex groups and opposite sex carer... — Scope | Disability forum
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Which "wins"? Single-sex groups and opposite sex carer...

Danesfield Community member Posts: 4 Listener
Hi! First time posting so please accept my apologies for any errors or omissions in advance!

I'm a disabled mum and one of the few benefits of the pandemic has been that I could join a (free of charge) mothers' group for weekly online meetings - they have been a wonderful support to me. Now restrictions are easing up, the group has decided to reduce online meetings and start meeting in person - something I've honestly been dreading far more than looking forward to, and I'm sure this is familiar to many.

At the moment, I need my husband to support me as my carer to attend any in-person meetings or events - either to attend alone or with my nursery-age children. Due to the pandemic, he has been my only carer, and there isn't anyone else immediately obvious who could do this for me. The mothers' group have said it is a women-only space and are asking if there are other ways I can get enough support to be able to attend. 

I don't want to criticise the group or cause any problems for them because they have been a real life-line for me this past year. So I am trying to figure out a different way for me to participate in these in-person events, otherwise my access to this support group will reduce from once a week to once a month.  (Getting a female carer is more than just finding someone suitable for supporting me who I can afford - they would need to bond with my children enough to help me with keeping them safe while out in public if needed, which is not something that could be achieved on-the-spot).

This situation has got me wondering - where both adjustments for disability and the right to single-sex spaces apply but conflict with each other - which "wins"? Is it lawful to refuse a disabled person attendance to a single-sex space (in this case a public outdoor space) due to an opposite-sex carer?

I'd really welcome any links to reliable information - my internet searches keep taking me to whether care workers can care for opposite sex clients, which isn't the situation I'm trying to understand.

Thanks in advance.


  • johnsmith187
    johnsmith187 Community member Posts: 58 Courageous
    From my limited understanding, single sex exemptions are protected in the equalities act 2010, so you are protected from discrimination based on your disability *except* when single sex spaces apply which would *win*. I can't link the equalities act ATM but it's easy to Google. 
  • Lisatho11987777
    Lisatho11987777 Scope Member Posts: 5,911 Disability Gamechanger
    There are single male parents who could benefit from this type of support as well and also married men to be fair I f7dnt think this was allowed anymore  where I am its always been available to men and women  otherwise how can we have equality??
  • Danesfield
    Danesfield Community member Posts: 4 Listener
    Many thanks for your reply.

    I managed to find this: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/notes/division/3/16/20/7 (shared for ease of reference for others reading this)...
    It states that single-sex services are permitted where "they may be used by more than one person and a woman might object to the presence of a man (or vice versa); " and that "In each case, the separate provision has to be objectively justified."
    This still leaves me unsure as to whether the single sex space "wins" as I'm not clear on what counts as "objectively justified"
    However, reading this information about dual characteristics makes me think that the single sex space exemptions probably do "win":  
    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/notes/division/3/2/2/2, specifically "A black woman is charged £100 for insurance. As white men are only charged £50 for the same insurance, she alleges this is dual discrimination because of the combination of sex and race. By comparing the claimant’s treatment with a white woman who also pays £100, or a black man who pays £50, the insurance company is able to demonstrate that the difference in premium is entirely due to sex, not race. The insurance exception in Schedule 3 means that insurance companies can lawfully set different premiums for women and men in certain circumstances so provided the exception applies in this case, the treatment does not constitute dual discrimination. The less favourable treatment is because of sex and an exception makes the sex discrimination lawful."

    Like I said, I'm not trying to raise a complaint or cause any problems, just genuinely interested as to how such things are framed when conflicting rights appear to apply to a single situation.

    I can't imagine that my scenario is that rare though, given the rate of informal family carers, so it's surprising to me that there isn't a more relevant example to explain things more clearly.

    Thanks again.
  • johnsmith187
    johnsmith187 Community member Posts: 58 Courageous
    @Danesfield no problem, it is interesting I suppose.although like I said I only have a basic understanding. @lisathomas50 it is equality as men are free to set up a group which is solely for them and of course there are mixed sex groups, it is just that this particular group has chosen to be single sex, this could be for a variety of reasons and they are free legally to do so. There are women who feel uncomfortable talking about their disability Infront of men and a single sex group is important to them otherwise they would not be able to get support. As long as there are options open to men in other groups it's a perfectly reasonable request ?
  • Lisatho11987777
    Lisatho11987777 Scope Member Posts: 5,911 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you I havent come across it which is why I didn't know most parent groups here are mixed for men and women disabled and able bodied 
  • johnsmith187
    johnsmith187 Community member Posts: 58 Courageous
    @lisathomas50 yes, same most places I would imagine,it's rare that a group does invoke single sex conditions which is why I suspect it's for a particular reason,like it's a group designed to be a safe space for women. ?


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