Public Buildings Must Have Separate Gender Toilets Under New Government Plans
Gender-neutral toilets will become a thing of the past in UK public buildings under new government plans.
In October last year, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick launched a review into the provision of toilets for men and women; more specifically, supposed concerns over gender-neutral facilities, attracting criticism for alienating trans and non-binary people.
It’s now being reported that offices, shops, entertainment venues and hospitals, as well as other public buildings, will be forced to have separate ‘male’ and ‘female’ bathrooms.
A source close to the Tory MP told The Telegraph: ‘It’s a necessity for women to have access to their own provision of toilets, but too often separate sex toilets are being removed by stealth – causing great distress.’
They added: ‘We’ve listened to the concerns raised by women and the elderly about their security, dignity and safety and are going to maintain and improve safe guards by updating regulations in order to ensure that there is always the necessary provision of separate toilets for everyone in the community.’
Should the changes come into force, new buildings as well as those undergoing refurbishment will be required to have separate stalls for men and women, with women’s toilets having cubicles and being ‘entirely self-contained, with basins and hand dryers.’
The original government announcement claimed: ‘Women often have to face excessive queues for toilets 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.’
It also cited a ‘trend’ in which female-only facilities have been replaced with gender-neutral toilets that place ‘women at a significant disadvantage’ without providing any statistics. Despite nearly seven months passing, there’s been no further evidence on this.
Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ campaigners have been fighting for more gender-neutral toilets and more inclusive spaces. Also, under the 2010 Equality Act, ‘gender reassignment’ is protected from discrimination by public authorities, entitling trans men and women to access their respective bathrooms.
A spokesperson for trans-led organisation We Exist previously told VICE: ‘We believe that a consultation on toilets is yet another attempt by the current government to exclude, alienate and discriminate against trans and non-binary people.’
They added: ‘This government is happy to start culture wars in an attempt to divert from their many, many failings in dealing with the pandemic, and this is no different.’
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