Local business divides Aussies by defending 'female-only' policy

The rule has been branded 'sexist'.

The owner of an Australian beauty salon has defended the business over claims its female-only policy is "sexist" and that women would be in "uproar" if the situation was reversed. Chic Beauty Hub opened its doors in late October as a "female only, hijabi friendly" business, but just weeks later has been the target of online attacks.

"I want to apologise for the controversy this has caused," the owner Penny wrote on Facebook last Thursday, following a heated debate over an ad displaying the salon's customer policy. "Though in saying that, I back my decision 100 per cent in making this a female only salon," she added.

Chic Beauty Hub in St Andrews, NSW, displaying a 'female only' sign
The owner of Chic Beauty Hub is standing by her decision to make it a female-only salon. Source: Facebook

Business owner not backing down

Penny went on to explain the backlash is one of the reasons she banned men from the western Sydney business in the first place. "As the comments of some small minded men has proven, I am trying to prevent both my staff and my clients from feeling uncomfortable around men who don't have respect for women," she explained. "It is also a safe space for females who have been in DV situations to be able to feel a sense of security."

The owner added that she caters to hijabi/scarfed women "as they have the right to have a place to go to and feel a part of society and not be put in a room away from the world waiting for an hour for their hair colour to develop". She argued that "this is their time out as much as it is for any other male/female who goes for a pamper day".

And as for men seeking beauty treatments? The businesswoman pointed towards a barber shop nearby. "As stated in our lease, we can not cut male's hair and as the barber offers waxing services, we've eliminated these services for men," she said, "though I'm sure Barber's Crib would be happy to accommodate".

Support for female-only policy

While some Facebook users criticised the policy as "sexist" and hurled abuse at supporters of the salon, the advert for Penny's business has received plenty of positive feedback. "There's so many places for men to go to, but you're upset because this business is asking for only women to attend?" one woman questioned. "I think it's a great idea. So many reasons why some women would prefer this sort of set-up."

"Men have barbers who cater only to men, so why can't women have a beauty place that caters only to females?" another wrote.

What the law says

According to Anti-Discrimination NSW, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 makes certain types of discrimination in certain public places against the law. "The Act also sets out exceptions where discrimination is allowed, and if an exception applies in particular circumstances, the conduct will not be a breach of the Act," the organisation's president Helen McKenzie told Yahoo News Australia.

"For example, you are allowed to advertise a job looking for a person of a particular sex when it is an essential requirement of the job. There is also an exception relating to goods and services which provides that, where a skill is commonly exercised differently in relation to men and women, a person will not breach the Act by exercising that skill for men or women only.

Yahoo News Australia has reached out to Chic Beauty Hub for comment.

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