UK

Public buildings must provide separate single-sex toilets under new government rules

Josh Milton May 17, 2021
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gender-neutral toilets

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick believes his toilet review is a "necessity". (David Nash/Barcroft Media via Getty and Envato)

Public buildings in Britain will soon be forced to have separated, single-sex toilets for men and women amid a government review on gender-neutral facilities.

As part of a bizarre review into gender-neutral facilities that trans activists have dubbed “excluding and alienating“, alleged plans to force architects and contractors to construct partitions in unisex toilets.

Sources told The Telegraph that communities secretary Robert Jenrick will shake up toilets in workplace offices, shops, entertainment venues and hospitals.

Refurbished buildings will also be impacted by the changes, which will rejig building regulations and planning guidance, sources said.

It is understood that the changes will involve it being mandatory that companies and local authorities have separate men and women’s stalls. Women’s toilets would have cubicles and be “entirely self-contained, with basins and hand dryers”.

Insiders touted the changes as a way to “safeguard” women while “separate sex toilets are being removed by stealth, causing great distress”, a source close to the minister told the newspaper.

A review was quietly issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in October to “address misconceptions that removing sex-specific toilets are a requirement of equality legislation”.

Gender-neutral lavatories, it claimed, place “women at a significant disadvantage”.

Considering it was at a time when Britain reached two grim milestones in the coronavirus pandemic – one million cases and a second national lockdown – the response from LGBT+ rights groups was one of confusion and frustration.

Indeed, activists were quick to stress the lack of evidence around the so-called issue of gender-neutral restrooms and the struggles women allegedly face about them.

The review, they said, appeared nothing more than a “culture war”, the latest iteration of the lives of trans folk being reduced to a battleground.

Local authorities and employers follow the 2010 Equality Act. As part of its sweeping anti-discrimination provisions, it states that “gender reassignment” is a protected characteristic.

As a result, trans men are entitled to access the same facilities and services as other men and that trans women are entitled to access the same facilities and services as other women.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told PinkNews that the government is not actively restricting the provision of gender-neutral toilets.

“We recently carried out a call for evidence to ensure better provision of toilets,” they said.

|In particular, women often have to face excessive queues or don’t have access to appropriate facilities that meet their needs when out.

“This can mean that women are reluctant to go out or take trips that many take for granted, and are less likely to feel comfortable using mixed-sex facilities.

“There needs to be a public service provision for everyone in our community, and this review will help to deliver on that objective.

“We are now considering the responses and will confirm the next steps in due course.”

Related topics: gender-neutral toilets, single-sex spaces

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