New office buildings, schools, hospitals and entertainment venues must have: separate male and female toiletsministers will declare this week, in an effort to curb the “forced sharing” of gender-neutral facilities.
The Telegraph understands that the government will formally announce that it is taking steps to prevent non-residential buildings from being built solely with “universal” toilets. The move involves changes to building codes and planning guidelines.
The plans, spearheaded by equality minister Kemi Badenoch, were quietly approved by ministers last month after Ms Badenoch was warned that some children avoiding the use of toilets at school because they only had access to gender-neutral facilities.
Ms Badenoch has insisted that it is both legal and “important” to provide same-sex spaces for men and women.
It will likely be billed by ministers as a “common sense” approach to thwart a growing trend of gender-neutral toilets becoming the default option in new buildings.
The move follows a review launched by Robert Jenrick, who was housing secretary until last year, who sources say had identified concerns of women about the reduced privacy and longer queues as a result of gender-neutral facilities.
‘Dignity and privacy’
Women’s rights groups have warned that women are “disadvantaged” by gender-neutral facilities containing a mixture of urinals and cubicles “because they cannot use urinals, while men can use the cubicles”.
“In addition, many women and girls are unwilling to walk past the urinals to get to the cubicles in the former men’s toilets,” the campaign group Fair Play for Women said in a submission to the government.
A government source said: “It is vital that women feel safe and comfortable using public facilities and that greater emphasis is placed on facilities that promote dignity, privacy, tolerance and respect for all.
“These changes will halt the advance of ‘universal’ and forced sharing of spaces – with a focus on ensuring privacy for all. This is a common sense approach that is inclusive for everyone.”
The guideline applies to buildings from a certain size, which will be determined in the autumn after technical consultation.
Sources said ministers and Downing Street want the changes to apply to all buildings serving as business premises.
Government Property Agency guidelines will also be updated to ensure new or redeveloped government buildings provide same-sex toilets†
Safety for women
In 2019, the Old Vic Theater in central London became the last place to be criticized when it converted all of its male and female toilets into gender-neutral toilets, as part of a refurbishment.
The theater doubled the number of toilets in the building and said it would mark the new rooms with: pictures of a cubicle or a urinal“enabling people to decide for themselves which toilet is right for them”.
Last year, in response to claims that the proposed changes were “transphobic”, Mr Jenrick told The Telegraph: “This was a matter of trying to protect women’s safety and privacy. Many women… would prefer separate ladies and gents toilets in public buildings.”
He added that a requirement for same-sex toilets would mean that “women using these facilities will have the confidence and security to know that if they want to, they can go to their own toilets and not see other people.” will find.” in them. I think that’s the right thing to do.”