The change comes amid dignity and privacy concerns from women and elderly people who feel they are being unfairly disadvantaged as publicly accessible toilets are increasingly being converted into gender neutral facilities.
Concerns over the rise of neutral gender facilities has meant that public have been forced to share cubicle and hand-washing facilities, leading to increasing waiting in shared queues, decreased choice and a limitation on privacy and dignity for all.
“A few months ago all our toilets at work got changed to mixed-sex. They are self-contained individual cubicles. We didn’t get consulted or anything – just got to work on Monday and every toilet had a joint man and woman sign.
“I went to use the loo, opened the door and there was a bloke already in there with his back to me. He turned around when I opened the door. He was semi undressed and I could clearly see his ‘lad’. It made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t know the guy,” – Anonymous female employee, Mumsnet (October 4th,2022).
New regulations and guidance will mean women, who may need to use facilities more often because of pregnancy or sanitary needs, will now be guaranteed appropriate facilities either through a separate single-sex space or through a self-contained, private toilet.
In addition to single sex toilets becoming the default and minimum for new non-residential buildings and places undertaking major refurbishment, the guidelines will encourage the consideration of self-contained toilets, which are a fully enclosed toilet room with a wash hand basin for individual use.
“It is important that everybody has privacy and dignity when using public facilities. Yet the move towards ‘gender neutral’ toilets has removed this fundamental right for women and girls.
“These proposals will ensure every new building in England is required to provide separate male and female or unisex facilities, and publish guidance to explain the difference, protecting the dignity, privacy and safety of all,” – Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Women and Equalities.
The changes will be made through building regulations and guidance. The aim of the new requirements will ensure that:
- Separate single-sex toilets facilities are provided for men and women; and/or
- Self-contained, private toilets are provided where space allows to ensure privacy and safety;
- Mixed sex shared facilities are not an option, except when lack of space allows only a single toilet
The UK Government has previously stated, however, that it has no authority to ban so-called gender neutral toilets outright.
Main Image: By AxelBoldt (talk · contribs) – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46682644
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