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Exclusive: Gay couple barred from entering slimming competition

Jessica Geen April 2, 2009
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A gay couple who joined Slimming World have been barred from entering the company’s annual Mr & Mrs competition.

Jean-Paul Ravenk and his partner of 19 years joined the weight loss scheme in November 2007.

In January, he told his local group leader he was interested in entering the competition, the prize for which is a week at a spa resort in Cyprus or £2,000 cash.

He was informed the competition, held in February each year, is open only to heterosexual couples.

Mr Ravenk was told by another group leader that he and his partner could enter the competition but would not be allowed to proceed to the national heats if they won their local round.

After complaining to the company, he was told: “The very nature of the competition title being Mr & Mrs does suggest that it is only relevant for heterosexual couples, and the competition has been very successful for many years, so we would like to preserve what works for us, whilst also of course ensuring that we are fair to all of our members.”

Mr Ravenk believes the company is breaking the law under the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007. He has approached the Equality and Human Rights Commission and plans to make a formal complaint.

He said: “I appreciate it may not be high level or appallingly detrimental but Slimming World are right now discriminating against LGBT people.”

A Slimming World spokeswoman said: “Slimming World has been corresponding with Mr Ravenk about Slimming World’s Mr & Mrs competition which is run in February each year and we are waiting for a response from him to our last correspondence in which we asked to work together with him and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in reviewing our policy.

“We’re grateful to Mr Ravenk for drawing this matter to Slimming World’s attention and will be, in advance of next year’s competition, reviewing our policy, working alongside the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

“It is contrary to everything Slimming World believes in to discriminate against anyone in any way whatsoever.”

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