The Equality Act 2010: Key Changes Affecting Clubs, Associations and Charities. What is an Association?. The provisions in Part 7 of the Equality Act apply to any association of people if: it has at least 25 members;
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The provisions in Part 7 of the Equality Act apply to any association of people if:
An organisation that merely requires members of the public to pay a fee to join it without any form of selection (such as a nightclub or a gym) is not an association under the Act, but is covered by other provisions.
A ‘club’ run by a group of friends without any formal structure (such as a book club or a women’s group or a walking group) is not an association under the Act.
Provisions not to discriminate, harass or victimise apply to members (of all types), guests and associates (actual and potential).
Associations that are charities are subject to additional provisions under the Act related specifically to charities.
The Act permits associations of any size or character (other than political parties) to restrict their membership to persons who share a ‘protected characteristic’. For example, it is lawful to restrict membership to only disabled people or women.
A charity will not breach the Act by providing benefits only to people who share a particular ‘protected characteristic/s’ if this is in accordance with their constitution or governing document, and is either:
Restrictions based on ‘protected characteristics’ can also lawfully be applied to associates & guests of an association or charity.
This exception does not apply if the membership of an association or group of people who are to receive benefits under the charitable instrument is defined by colour (for example “for Black people only”), which is unlawful.
Exceptions apply in relation to:
The prohibition of harassment does not apply where the protected characteristic is religion or belief or sexual orientation.
In such cases, a person who has suffered a detriment could bring a claim of direct discrimination.
If an association meets at the house of a member, there is no duty on that member to make adjustments to the physical features of their house.
However, the association may have to arrange a change of venue to ensure that disabled members have access to association benefits, facilities and services.