Ballroom dance organisers have backed a proposal which could prevent same sex partners from competing against mixed couples.
The British Dance Council (BDC) is considering the rule change which would define a dance partnership as "one man and one lady in all adult amateur and professional competitions and championships unless otherwise stated".
BDC president Bryan Allen has insisted the proposal comes after complaints that mixed sex dance partners were "unfairly disadvantaged" in competitions against all-male couples.
– BDC president Bryan Allen
There had been complaints from a number of people who felt they were unfairly disadvantaged by the participation of all male dance couples who are physically stronger.
There is no proposal to stop same sex couples dancing. We don't discriminate on colour, race, sexuality or anything else.
"My gut feeling is it would probably help to strengthen same sex competitions. I wish we had more of them," Mr Allen added.
Critics have claimed the proposal could see same-sex dancer partners banned from ballroom competitions because organisers or competitors are not "comfortable" with their participation.
Heather Devine, who is a European same-sex senior women's ballroom champion, said: "I am really distressed that the BDC is even considering banning us."
"We've put in a huge amount of effort. To exclude us will mean that we can't dance in mainstream competitions any more. This seems so unfair," Ms Devine, who competes with her female partner Chrisi Lyons, added.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "We are concerned this proposed ban may be motivated by some judges, competitors and spectators not being comfortable with the participation of same-sex dance partners."
The proposal will be considered at the BDC's change of rules meeting on July 21.