UK government to make single-sex toilets mandatory in all new public buildings

Separate toilets for men and women will become a legal requirement in all new restaurants, public toilets, shopping centers and offices in England under proposed legislation, the UK government has announced.

The law would apply to England only and would cover all new buildings as well as existing premises that undergo a material change of use.

Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said the legislation would "end the rise of so-called 'gender-neutral' mixed-sex toilets that deny privacy and dignity to both men and women.

She said: "Today's announcement will also create better provision for women so that our particular biological, health and sanitary needs are met.

BBC reports: A consultation highlighted concerns from women, elderly and disabled people who felt “unfairly disadvantaged” by toilets being converted into gender neutral facilities sharing cubicles and sinks, the government said.

But transgender rights groups argue gender-neutral toilets can protect trans people from discrimination.

The rights groups say that, along with other people who do not conform to the gender binary, trans people can face intrusive challenges when using male or female toilets.

The government hopes to present the long-talked about legislation to Parliament in the next few weeks and, if approved, have it in force later this year.

The change to building regulations will also allow contained, universal toilets in addition to single-sex toilets where space allows, or instead of single-sex toilets where there is not enough space.

A universal toilet is defined by the government as a self-contained room with a toilet and sink for individual use.

The government said gender neutral toilets were leading to increasing waiting in shared queues and less privacy and dignity.

“These regulations will guide organisations to design unisex and single-sex toilets, ending the rise of so-called gender-neutral mixed sex toilet spaces, which deny privacy and dignity to both men and women, ” Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said.

“Today’s announcement will also create better provision for women so that our particular biological, health and sanitary needs are met.”

When asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain if gender-neutral toilets would persuade people to vote Conservative following poor local election results, Women’s Health Minister Maria Caulfield insisted: “This is an important issue for women.”

The new legislation will also apply to buildings going through major refurbishment. Exemptions include care homes, cells in custody suites and schools.

A consultation, which received 17,000 responses, found 81% agreed with the intention for separate single-sex toilet facilities and 82% agreed with the intention to provide universal toilets where space allows.

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