HOLLYWOOD actor Brian Cox has lashed out at male-only Robert Burns clubs, blasting the ban on women as “prejudicial idiocy.”
The 65-year-old Scot said that Burns himself would be turning in his grave to see that societies dedicated to the national bard are still refusing to let women join.
In the run up to this year’s Burns Night celebrations, two major societies in Scotland have said their forthcoming dinners will be once again strictly male only.
The clubs in New Cumnock in Ayrshire and Montrose in Angus refuse to make the change in their men-only Rabbie Burns Societies.
But Cox, a fan of Burns and campaigner for equal rights for women, said Burns “must be performing back flips in his mausoleum, at the sheer prejudicial idiocy of these individuals.”
And the Hollywood star is not the only one who thinks the men-only rule should be abolished.
Karen Scott, a Burns enthusiast, living in Montrose, said she is saddened some organisations continue to exclude women from Burns Night suppers.
Ms Scott has been pushing for women to be included in the suppers over the last decade.
She said: “It’s so sad that things haven’t moved on after all these years.
“It is wrong that I have a local club but I will have to travel to find one that will accept women.
“I have spoken at Burns suppers in schools where both boys and girls take part but in some areas, if the girls want to continue being active in them after they leave school, they are hit with this.”
Equality laws do allow for single-sex clubs but only in some circumstances.
As stated in the Equality Act 2010, all groups except for political parties may restrict access of their members and guests to people who share the same protected characteristics as the members of the association.
But Chris Rollie, a Burns Historian and former president of the New Cumnock club, defended the men-only policy.
He said: “New Cumnock has a function, the Burns Supper, which is for males. It’s a question of freedom really, if the committee decide to continue with the traditions of the club in that way, then who’s to stop them?
“It’s not as if there’s been a huge clamour of females wishing to attend, it’s just that it would change the character of the supper.
“In a free world we have the right to meet as a group of men and that’s what we do.
Meanwhile, Montrose Burns Club president Graeme Newton said the issue of women attending one of their suppers was rarely raised, if at all.