An Adelaide barber shop has applied for an exemption to allow it to ban women from the outlet.
Robbie’s Chop Shop, located at Unley in Adelaide, describes itself as ‘the last male sanctuary’.
It is unlawful for businesses offering customer service to discriminate on the basis of sex, unless they have an exemption.
Barber applies to ban women from shop
At the entrance of Robbie’s Chop Shop is a message board that asks customers to respect that it is a male-only establishment.
The unlawful policy prompted a customer to make a complaint to Equal Opportunity SA.
In response, the barber shop announced on Instagram that it is seeking an exemption from the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
“While we feel that this complaint is misconceived, we are doing our best to resolve the situation in a respectful and understanding manner to the satisfaction of all involved,” the post said.
“Unfortunately this is not the first complaint of this type that we have received, so in order to deal with them once and for all, we have decided to make an application for an exemption to (the) Equal Opportunity Act.”
Robbie’s Chop Shop said it is important the barber remains male-only to be a “safe space for men to come together and discuss their issues”.
Call for community support
As part of its application, the shop has put the call out to the community asking for positive testimonials.
One Instagram post said: “Everyone who believes that it’s important to keep Robbie’s Chop Shop as a male sanctuary, to please write us a little testimonial”.
Another said: Back in my day people were able to run their business the way they wanted to. Help us run our business with the vision we have”.
Responses to the posts have been mixed.
One user wrote: “Men will literally ask for exemptions to the Equal Opportunity Act instead of just going to therapy”.
Others pointed to a number of women-only spaces: “Don’t see the issue for men having their own space in society as well”.
“I wonder if this happens to places like female only gyms? What an absolute joke this has happened,” a user commented.
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Meanwhile, discrimination lawyer Stephen Dryley-Collins said state and federal laws make it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sex.
“The South Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sex in customer services,” he said.
“So it’s pretty clear that you can’t refuse to serve someone just because they are a woman.
“These laws exist to protect everyone in the community so they can get a fair chance to take part in economic and community life.
“Everyone deserves to feel included and safe and not be turned away from a business because of a protected attribute.”
Mr Dryley-Collins said businesses who do want to discriminate must apply for an exemption.
For example, women-only gyms and men-only gay sex on premises venues.
“This barber shop will have to prove a genuine need to get an exemption – and I’m not sure that ‘providing a safe space for men’ will cut it,” he said.
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