The British Dance Council is set to consider a proposal that would ban same-sex dance partners from ballroom competitions.
It would define a dance partnership as having to consist of a “man” and a “lady”.
The proposal will be discussed on 21 July and reads: “This Council recognizes a partnership to be one man and one lady in all adult amateur and professional competitions and championships unless otherwise stated.”
Heather Devine, who competes with her female dance partner Chrisi Lyons, is appalled by the proposal.
They are the current European Same-Sex Senior Women’s Champions.
Ms Devine said: “I am really distressed that the BDC is even considering banning us. We’ve put in a huge amount of effort. To exclude us will mean that we can’t dance in mainstream competitions any more. This seems so unfair.”
“Contrary to claims by some supporters of the new rule, male same-sex dance duos do not have an advantage. Ballroom dancing is not like tennis or football. Power and strength are not the key to winning. Poise, musicality, expression. timing, floorcraft and presentation are the main judging criteria. This means that two men do not have an advantage over a mixed-sex couple,” she added.
Ms Devine has written to Bryan Allen, President of the British Dance Council, expressing her dismay.
The BDC is the governing body of ballroom dancing in the UK.
It formulates and administers the rules for all competitions.
Mr Allen said in a letter to secretaries of all corporate members that the rules should “take into consideration the feelings of the competitors, the physical strength and stamina of a same-sex couple who might be included in a competition.”
Meanwhile, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell suggested that the proposal would breach multiple laws.
He said: “A same-sex dancing ban would probably be illegal sex and sexual orientation discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 and the Equality Act 2010. We are concerned this proposed ban may be motivated by some judges, competitors and spectators not being comfortable with the participation of same-sex dance partners.”
On Thursday afternoon, Mr Allen told PinkNews that the proposal did not amount to a ban. Referencing the proposal, he pointed to the phrase “unless otherwise stated”, and said it was about ensuring “equality” regarding provisions for mixed sex and same-sex competitions – both would continue to be catered for by the BDC, he added.