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BBC News host has three hour Twitter rant about venue’s gender neutral toilets

April 6, 2017

A BBC News presenter has posted a series of tweets about gender neutral toilets introduced at a popular London performance venue.

Samira Ahmed, presenter of BBC shows Front Row and Newswatch, launched into a Twitter tirade after noticing gender-neutral toilets in London’s Barbican complex.

The Barbican, which has dozens of sets of gendered toilets across its complex, had introduced one single set of gender-neutral toilets in the basement cinema several months ago, bearing the signs ‘toilets with cubicles’ and ‘toilets with urinals and cubicles’.

Ms Ahmed wrote: “So dear Barbican Centre bosses, listen to your customers.

“Women [have enough] trouble with queues without you imposing your politics.

“Or just turn the gents into gender-neutral loos. There’s never such a queue there and you know it. Thank you.”

The Tweets, which were posted over almost three hours, come as the debate about gendered toilets continues to grow.

She wrote that one of the bathrooms was “full of men”, writing: “Women’s loo labelled ‘gender neutral’ so full of men who also have a ‘urinal’ to themselves. Totally ridiculous.”

Ahmed went on: “Give us back women’s loos for all women.

“Why do women lose our space to men!? All women can use ladies loos. This isn’t the USA.”

Donald Trump recently overturned a rule designed to protect transgender young people, allowing them to use the bathroom they identify with.

The Barbican has since responded to her complaints, writing online: “We introduced the gender-neutral toilets in part of the centre as part of our commitment to welcoming all and creating a supportive and tolerant space,” a spokesman for the centre said.

“We welcome all your feedback about the new system as we look to ensure an outstanding audience experience for all.”

Although the BBC anchor’s nearest bathrooms were gender neutral, the Barbican has many gendered bathrooms should someone wish to use an alternative.

Rebecca Stinson, head of trans inclusion at Stonewall, told The Times: “It’s really encouraging that more businesses want to help trans people feel safe and welcome.

“However, before making this move, businesses must research the best way to make a space fully inclusive and communicate the importance of inclusion clearly with staff.

“Other easy steps include . . . ensuring that trans people know they are welcome to use the facilities they find most appropriate.”

Ms Ahmed previously won an award from Stonewall for her investigation into ‘corrective rape’.

Ms Ahmed and the BBC declined to comment on the comments.

The comments come after another Radio 4 presenter, Dame Jenni Murray, was widely condemned by trans activists for writing trans women are not “real women”.

The Woman’s Hour host and feminist wrote in the Sunday Times Magazine that trans women can never be “real women” because they could experience male privilege before they transition.

The BBC declined to disavow the comments of the veteran broadcaster, but issued a statement saying: “Jenni Murray is a freelance journalist and these were her own views, however we have reminded her that presenters should remain impartial on controversial topics covered by their BBC programmes.”

She went on to criticise comments made by trans broadcaster India Willoughby, who after becoming the first trans woman to co-host Loose Women, appeared on Woman’s Hour in December.

More: Barbican, BBC, gender neutral, London, Radio 4, toilets, Trans

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