WPUK: EHRC Guidance on single sex exceptions

Woman’s Place UK welcomes guidance from the EHRC on the implementation of single-sex exceptions as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

EHRC guidance clarifies the law as it stands

WPUK welcomes the EHRC’s Guidance to Separate and single-sex service providers. The EHRC guidance clarifies the law as it currently stands and replaces advice which has previously been inaccurate or misleading – something we have been pushing them to address since our inception.

To find out more about how we have campaigned for greater clarity from the EHRC, you can read the the findings of a legal opinion that we commissioned which found that EHRC guidance from 2019 misrepresented the law in its guidance to the Scottish Government. You can also read our full exchange with EHRC on the importance of accurate sex data.

We are also pleased that the EHRC has listened to the voices of women who are struggling to access separate and single sex services; and to service providers who are facing pressure not to provide these services.

From the outset, we have always called for greater clarity on the practical implementation of the law which permits women-only spaces and services.

WPUK initial campaign demands

Our campaign started with these 5 demands:

  1. Respectful and evidence-based discussion about the impact of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act to be allowed to take place and for women’s voices to be heard.
  2. The principle of women-only spaces to be upheld – and where necessary extended.
  3. A review of how the exemptions in the Equality Act (which allow for single sex services, or requirements that only a woman can apply for a job such as in a domestic violence refuge) are being applied in practice.
  4. Government to consult with women’s organisations on how self-declaration would impact on women-only services and spaces.
  5. Government to consult on how self-declaration will impact upon data gathering – such as crime, employment, pay and health statistics – and monitoring of sex-based discrimination such as the gender pay gap.

EHRC guidance will improve understanding and implementation of Equality Act 2010

We particularly welcome that the guidance provides a clear definition of terms and a range of helpful examples. We also welcome that the guidance references other legislation, for example Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 which are also relevant to the provision of single sex spaces and are all too often overlooked.
We are writing to the EHRC to offer our input and constructive feedback on areas where we feel there could still be greater clarity.
We continue to call for the Secretary of State to implement the WESC recommendation for new statutory guidance in this area.


Other related reading

New Year Resolutions 2019

WPUK Manifesto 2019

We believe that it is important to share a range of viewpoints on women’s rights and advancement from different perspectives. WPUK does not necessarily agree or endorse all the views that we share.