Equality watchdog investigating play centre's ban on men
8 August 2012
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating the legality of a Birmingham play centre’s policy which apparently bans men from the premises.
Kids Go Wild, a children’s play centre in Sparkhill, has a policy in place which prohibits the entry of any male humans above the age of nine. Promoting itself as “the UK’s first ladies and children’s only soft play centre”, it has sparked some controversy with its approach.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which serves as the UK’s watchdog on matters of equality, is now looking into the matter. A statement released on the issue said that “the Equality Act does allow for services to be just for women or men only, but this is the exception not the norm and must pass a strict test to be justifiable”. The play centre will therefore be required to explain if there is an objective reason for banning men from the premises.
The manager of Kids Go Wild claimed that the ban was for cultural reasons, stating that “It’s a predominantly Asian community here and we’re catering for that. It’s not that men are an issue, ladies are more comfortable around women.”
She claimed that, far from being opposed to the ban, many of the mothers who brought their children to the play centre had requested that such a policy be put in place.
A sign outside Kids Go Wild sets out the restrictions, stating ‘Ladies and children only. No boys over nine allowed.”
But local councillor Mohammed Fazel expressed surprise over the play centre’s stance and said he thought that fathers should be welcome to bring their children there, just as mothers were.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission encouraged organisations to get professional legal advice before implementing exclusionary policies, in order to ensure that they will not find themselves on the wrong side of equality law.