Ballroom dance champion: Banning same-sex couples would be discrimination

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A ballroom dance champion has spoken out against a proposed ban on same-sex couples dancing in mixed events.

Earlier this week, the British Dance Council proposed a rule change that would define a dance partnership as “one man and one lady in all adult amateur and professional competitions and championships”, unless stated otherwise.

Heather Devine, who is the current European same-sex senior women’s champion, has spoken out against the proposed change.

She told Radio 4: “[It] would mean same-sex couples wouldn’t be allowed to compete unless a particular competition organiser says they can.

“That effectively means it’s up to organisers and [depends] on the feeling of the other competitors, which sounds like condoning discriminatory behaviour.

“There is an exception in the law which allows discrimination in sporting situations if men, on average, are bigger and stronger and therefore at an advantage to women.

“I don’t see any evidence of this in ballroom dancing – if it were the case, we’d see the top competitors being big, strong couples and actually the opposite seems to be true.

“I don’t think we can use this exemption to say two men can be excluded from an important competition just because they are potentially bigger and stronger.”

While BDC president Bryan Allen claims there would be “very few, if any” competitions which exclude same-sex couples, opponents of the change complain it makes discrimination the status quo, and equality the exception.

He added: “The BDC has a strict policy of equity – we prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status, race, colour, disability, sexuality, religion or political opinion and remains absolutely one of our priorities.”

The proposal is due to be discussed by the BDC’s board of directors on July 21.