Membership Clubs & Sexual Orientation

Membership Clubs & Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Discrimination on the 'sexual orientation ground' happens where there is less favourable treatment of one person compared to another person because they are of different sexual orientation.

‘Sexual orientation’ is defined as heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual orientation.

Membership clubs - a sports club for example - are one of the services covered by the Equal Status Acts and, as a general rule, cannot discriminate on any of the nine specified grounds (Age, Civil Status, Disability, Family Status, Gender, Membership of the Traveller Community, Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation) under the Equal Status Acts.

However, there are important exemptions.

Case Studies

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What's next?

Make a complaint

Any person can apply to the District Court for a declaration that a membership club (not a nightclub) is discriminating.

If it is found to be a discriminating club and it is the first such order made against the club, the District Court can suspend a club’s certificate to sell alcohol for a period of up to 30 days. The effect of the suspension is that the club cannot sell alcoholic drinks.

While a second or subsequent determination that a club is a discriminating club remains in effect, no certificate of registration shall be granted or renewed.

The Acts provide for an appeal to the Circuit Court and a club can apply to the District Court for a declaration as to whether it remains a discriminating club.

Actions taken to the District Court may involve costs.

The Workplace Relations Commission does not make decisions on claims about discriminatory clubs.

Contact us

We, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, have a statutory role to fight discrimination and provide information on equality and human rights in Ireland. Please note however that we are not a court and we do not decide on discrimination claims.

Learn more about how to contact us

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