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Parity is a UK-based equal rights organisation[1][2][3][4], campaigning to promote and protect the equality of men and women under the law.[5] Its main focus has been in the area of state pensions and associated benefits, and most of its notable successes have occurred in this field. The organisation was previously called "Campaign for Equal State Pension Ages".

Template:Infobox non-profit


Parity was formed in 1986 as "Campaign for Equal State Pension Ages" (CESPA) [6] and its principal aim was to obtain for men the same state pension rights at age 60 as are enjoyed by women.[5] The organisation changed its name to "Parity" in 1997 to reflect growing concern regarding increased unequal treatment of men and women by the state. [7]

Parity was denied charitable status for a number of years owing to the fact that it was seeking changes in the law to redress statutory sex discrimination, and thus was deemed to be political.[8] It finally gained charitable status in 2005 following a change to the Human Rights Act.[5]


The organisation is run entirely by volunteers and receives no public funding.[9] It had an income of £2,724 in 2009.[10]

In its constitution it states its objectives are "to promote and protect the equal rights of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil, political, economic social and cultural rights under the law" and "to institute proceedings in the UK or appropriate European Courts for the purpose of establishing or protecting any such equal rights."[11]


Parity has had some highly notable successes over the years, particularly in addressing sex discrimination against men by the government. Their campaigns have stopped government sex discrimination which had illegally denied hundreds of millions of pounds to males between the ages of 60-65.[12]

Successes have so far occurred in four main areas: prescription charges, winter fuel payments, bus travel concessions and widower's benefits.

Prescription Charges

Parity's first major success began in 1993 under its original name, when CESPA member Cyril Richardson, an asthmatic, took the government to court over sex discrimination in entitlement for free prescriptions[13][14]. Eventually, in 1995 the European Court ruled that it was unlawful to charge men aged 60–65 for prescriptions when they were free to women. As a result men now benefit to the tune of an estimated £30 million per annum. Additionally, £10 million in charges was refunded to those who had wrongly paid for prescriptions in the previous 3 months before the ruling.[15][16]

Winter Fuel Payments

In 1998 Parity member John Taylor went to the High Court to contest the fact that the government was denying winter fuel payments to men aged 60–65 that women were able to receive. It was argued that this was a breach of European laws on equality in social secuity[17], and that such discrimination was blatant and unjustifiable.[12][18] The case was referred to the European Court of Justice who ruled in Mr Taylor's favour in December 1999.[12] The ruling meant up to £26 million pounds per annum in benefits being given to men that otherwise would have been denied.[19]

Bus Travel Concessions

In 2000 Parity took the Government to the European Court of Human Rights over the fact that it denied free bus travel to men aged 60–65.[20][21] Despite Parity's previous successes, the government had refused to end discrimination in this area. [4] However, In June 2001 it became clear that Parity would win the case if it went to court and the government relented, with John Prescott announcing men would receive free bus passes from age 60. Controversially, Prescott hailed the move as "another example of the Government providing extra help for pensioners" whereas it had effectively been forced into the move by the European Court of Justice[22]. The Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Bill finally passed in 2003 resulting in males receiving the £50 million per annum in benefits that the state had unfairly denied them.[14][23].

Widowers benefits

Parity campaigned to end sexism in the payment of widows benefits and bereavement tax allowances. These were previously only paid to women and not men. The campaign achieved success in 2001 as a result the benefits are now available to both genders.[6][24]

Domestic violence statistics

In 2008 Parity campaigned to stop the Crown Prosecution Service making false statements that the "overwhelming" majority of domestic violence victims were women. With the aid of the UK Statistics Authority the organisation succeeded and the incorrect claims were removed from .[25][26] The organisation also forced Gillian Morgan of the Welsh Assembly to stop making the same claims in the "Strategic Action Plan to Address Violence to Women".[27]

Current Campaigns

Parity's main current campaign is to equalise the state pension ages for men and women in the United Kingdom.[28] Currently this is not due to take place until 2020.

Other objectives include[29]:

  • Equal state funding for treatment and research for male and female specific diseases.
  • Equal liability for men and women over 60 for National Insurance contributions.
  • Equal treatment of male and female victims of domestic violence.
  • Better government policies to ensure a more equal gender balance in the primary school education.
  • Funding for research into life expectancy inequalities between men and women.
  • Equal status for separated parents and better enforcement of contact and maintenance orders.
  • Equal anonymity for defendants and complainants in sex offence cases until conviction.


A number of politicians from several major parties actively support Parity. Lord Raglan is Parity's President, and the vice presidents include Winifred Ewing MSP, Hilton Dawson, Baroness Sally Hamwee, and Diana Wallis.[5] Previous vice presidents include Gwyneth Dunwoody.[30]


  1. Liberty, Parity and Justice at the Hull History Centre - Archives Hub
  2. How the lack of sport in school is breeding yobs | Mail Online
  3. Kent News - Bishop demands sporting chance for boys
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ministers fight free bus pass for men at 60 - UK Politics, UK - The Independent
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Parity - Campaigning for equal rights for UK men and women
  6. 6.0 6.1 BBC NEWS | Business | Threat to National Insurance increase
  7. Pensions
  8. PARITY & EQUAL RIGHTS FOR MEN - Mankind | HighBeam Research - FREE trial
  9. Parity - Campaigning for equal rights for UK men and women
  11. Parity - Campaigning for equal rights for UK men and women
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 BBC News | UK | Winter fuel payments 'sexist'
  13. Equal rights for men at the chemist's - Article - TES Connect
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Bill [HL] Bill 38 of 2001-02
  15. The textbook of pharmaceutical medicine - Google Books
  16. Men can have free prescriptions at 60 - 311 (7013): 1118 -
  17. BBC News | UK | Winter fuel case goes to Europe
  18. Winter fuel cash cheats men, says court chief - News - The Independent
  19. BBC News | UK Politics | Fuel payments ruling due
  20. Postman leads fight to change bus pass policy
  21. Well Done Parity! One million men set to benefit from equal travel concessions - Male View | HighBeam Research - FREE trial
  22. Men over 60 to be eligible for free bus passes - Telegraph
  23. BBC NEWS | Business | End to 'sexist' bus fares
  24. BBC NEWS | Business | Widowers besiege Europe with benefit claims
  28. Parity - Campaigning for equal rights for UK men and women
  29. Parity - Campaigning for equal rights for UK men and women
  30. PoliticalWizard 4.0

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