The British Dance Council is to consider a proposed rule change that could ban same-sex couples from competing in amateur and professional Ballroom dance competitions, which may be illegal discrimination.

A proposal from its rules sub-committee has suggested that dance partners for Ballroom dance competitions should comprise of a “man” and a “lady”.

The proposed rule change is:
THAT Rule 52 be titled: “Approved Competitions and Championships” and that 52(a) should read: ‘This Council recognizes 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 is the governing body of ballroom dancing in the UK. It formulates and administers the rules for all competitions. It will consider the proposal on the 21st July.

‘I am really distressed that the BDC is even considering banning us. 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,’ said Heather Devine who competes with her female dance partner Chrisi Lyons.

Same-sex dance couples are appalled and angry about the move to exclude them from future competitions.
Heather Devine and her dance partner of 18 months, Chrisi Lyons, are the current European Same-Sex Senior Women’s Champions, consistently reaching the finals of the same-sex A class competitions. They are registered to enter the mainstream UK Closed Championships in Bournemouth in July.


Sarah Hughes and Diane Willmot have competed in mainstream events all over the country since 2005. They strongly object to any retrograde rule change by the BDC which would prevent them continuing to have the freedom to participate.
John Church and his dance partner of four years, Alex, are regarded as one of the keenest and most active of the UK’s all-male ballroom dancing couples. They also resent the rule change.

Heather Devine said: ‘These successes show their dedication to, and passion for, ballroom dancing. They are saddened that the BDC is now considering bringing in a rule change that would exclude them from continuing to be able to dance in mainstream UK dance competitions.

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‘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.

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