UK government to make single-sex toilets compulsory in all new public buildings
"This is a common-sense approach that is inclusive for all."
Government sources have confirmed that ministers are to make single-sex toilets compulsory in all new public buildings in the UK.
In a move that will involve changes to building regulations and planning guidance, government ministers are expected to formally announce this week that they will prevent non-residential buildings from being built solely with “universal” lavatories – which means that new offices, schools, hospitals, entertainment venues, and more will be expected to have separate male and female toilets.
The move would also apply to new or redeveloped government-owned buildings.
Headed up by equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch, the plans for the move were said to have been quietly approved last month, The Telegraph reports.
The newspaper reported that the policy was first proposed back in May 2021, but was criticised as being a transphobic move as it offered no alternative plan for trans and non-binary people.
Ms Badenoch’s plans – which she insists are both legal and “important” – follow a review by former housing secretary Robert Jenrick, which reportedly came across concerns by women about the reduced privacy and longer queues that are generated by gender-neutral toilets.
The government has also claimed some children are avoiding using lavatories at school because they only have access to gender-neutral facilities.
Similarly, some campaign groups, including Fair Play for Women, told the government that same-sex facilities “disadvantaged” women, and that “many women and girls are unwilling to walk past the urinals to get to the cubicles in the former men’s facilities”.
A government source also told The Telegraph that it was “vital that women feel “safe and comfortable” when using public toilets, adding that: “These changes will stop the march of ‘universal’ and forced sharing of spaces – with a focus on guaranteeing privacy for all.
“This is a common-sense approach that is inclusive for all.”
An announcement on the plans is expected to be made this week, according to government sources, and would be adopted following a technical consultation in the autumn.
Featured Image – Sung Jin Cho (via Unsplash)