‘This has nothing to do with equality’: Councillor defends decision to ban women from playing Father Christmas
A Labour councillor is facing criticism for telling a woman that she was not allowed to play the role of Father Christmas.
Arun Chandran said that the pivotal role in County Durham’s annual Santa Tour should only be played by men, after he was asked if a man’s wife could play the part.
He told residents of Newton Arcliffe that the role should only be offered to a woman if there are no male volunteers.
Mr Chandran said: ‘If the council was unable to have enough male volunteers to act as Santa Claus, I would have no objection to women volunteers undertaking the role, rather than deny the presence of a Santa on a given tour, though I would have to be convinced that the council had given plenty of notice and sought publicly for male volunteers and not left thing to the last minute.
‘This has nothing to do with equality. There is no legality issue on this.
‘My understanding is that Santa Claus, otherwise called Father Christmas (among other names), is a male role. I have no issue with a Mrs Claus, but that comes down to space in vehicles nothing else.’
Councillor Chandran said that children ‘will be expecting a male Santa’ and that ‘political correctness’ should not overshadow the ‘public’s expectations’.
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He added: ‘I remain open if members can convince me that the Rotary Club and other Councils are introducing women Santa’s everywhere, but they are not.
‘Santa Claus being a man is a long held tradition accepted by the vast majority of society without question and change just for the sake of it, rather than a good reason or necessity is wrong, and will only serve to attract negative publicity.
‘I do not believe that the of the controlling Labour Group nor the Council as a whole, subscribe to political correctness overriding the public’s wishes or expectations and that is whom we serve.’
A unanimous vote concluded that female volunteers should be allowed to take up on the role of Father Christmas but it now needs to be agreed by the recreation committee.
A final decision will then be made at a meeting of the full council on December 12.
The Equality Act 2010 outlaws favourable treatment on the grounds of nine protected characteristics, including disability, religion, sexual orientation and sex.
However there are exceptions to the rule if the job can show that gender is a ‘general occupational requirement’.
County Durham’s Santa Tour has been running every December 24 since the 1960s.