BALLROOM dancing organisers have defended a proposal that could prevent same-sex dance partners from competing against mixed-sex couples.

The British Dance Council (BDC) is considering a rule change later this month that would define a dance ­partnership as being "one man and one lady ... unless otherwise stated".

Critics have claimed the proposal could see same-sex dance partners banned from ballroom competitions because organisers or competitors are not comfortable with their participation.

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But BDC president Bryan Allen insisted the proposal followed complaints that mixed-sex dance ­partners were disadvantaged in ­competitions against all-male couples.

Mr Allen said: "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."

Heather Devine, who competes with her female dance partner Chrisi Lyons, said: "I am really distressed that the BDC is even considering banning us."