The British Dance Council is considering banning same-sex dance partners from participating in ballroom dancing competitions.
According to LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell, the council’s rules sub-committee has proposed defining a dance couple as having to consist of a “man” and a “lady”.
The new “Approved Competitions and Championships” rule would read: “This Council recognises a partnership to be one man and one lady in all adult amateur and professional competitions and championships unless otherwise stated.”
The British Dance Council (BDC) is the governing body of ballroom dancing in the UK and formulates and administers the rules for all competitions.
“I am really distressed that the BDC is even considering banning us,” commented Heather Devine, who competes with her female dance partner Chrisi Lyons. “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.”
Devine and Lyons are the current European Same-Sex Senior Women’s Champions, and are registered to enter the mainstream UK Closed Championships in Bournemouth in July.
Devine has written to Bryan Allen, President of the BDC calling on the council to reject the new rule.
“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 said.
Tatchell, who is supporting the campaign against the rule change, pointed out that a same-sex couple ban would probably be illegal under the UK’s equality laws.
“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,” he said.
The British Dance Council will consider the rule change on 21 July.