UK Government Proposes Single-Sex Toilets in Non-Domestic Buildings

UK Government Proposes Single-Sex Toilets in Non-Domestic Buildings
credit: bbc

London (Parliament News) – The UK government plans to mandate single-sex toilets in new non-domestic buildings, addressing concerns over gender-neutral facilities. Exemptions apply, impacting schools and certain care facilities. Advocates emphasize privacy and dignity concerns.

Ministers have announced projects to require new non-domestic buildings in the UK to have single-sex toilets. New restaurants, public toilets, shopping centres and offices in England will be required to have individual male and female toilets under submitted legislation, the government has stated. The law will impact new non-residential buildings as part of a push to “end the rise” of gender-neutral toilets, Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch expressed.

What will the new law require?

Fresh non-domestic buildings, including restaurants, shopping centres, office buildings and public toilets, will have to have separate facilities for men and women, although, where there is inadequate space, a self-contained universal toilet – including a washbasin – may be furnished instead. Universal toilets can also be delivered in addition to single-sex facilities.

What exemptions are there?

The change in building rules will not apply to residential homes, ensuite facilities in individual rooms for residential intentions, residential rooms in care homes, partitions in custodial facilities, or premises used wholly or mainly for early years requirements or schools. Separate toilet facilities for boys and girls aged eight years or over must already be furnished in schools, except where the toilet is in a room that can be blocked from the inside and intended for use by one student at a time. Existing buildings will be unaffected.

What motivated the change?

Announcing the plans, the government stated it would “halt the march of gender-neutral toilets”. It expressed a consultation showed 81% agreed with the purpose of separate single-sex toilet facilities and 82% conformed with the intention to provide universal toilets where space permits. It conveyed particular concerns raised by women, elderly people and people with disabilities, and that gender-neutral facilities, where users share a booth and hand-washing facilities, lead to “growing waiting in shared queues, decreased choice and less privacy and dignity”.

Gender-critical feminists, who think sex is biological, inflexible and should be prioritised over gender essence, have been vociferous campaigners for single-sex spaces, including toilets. The women and equivalencies minister, Kemi Badenoch, who announced the shift in the building regulations, has long been seen as an ally to them.

How will the change in law affect transgender people?

Campaigners claim that some trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people choose to use gender-neutral toilets because they can encounter discrimination and harassment in single-sex facilities and the latest law does not take account of that.

Under existing law, transgender people can utilise the toilet that matches their gender identity but, in 2022, the Equality and Human Rights Commission stated that, under the Equality Act, people who do not have a gender distinction certificate could be excluded from single-sex services or facilities, including toilets, if it is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

It provided as an example a community centre with separate male and female toilets, which “shows a survey in which some service users say that they would not operate the centre if the toilets were open to members of the opposite biological sex, for reasons of solitude and dignity or because of their religious belief. It chooses to introduce an additional gender-neutral toilet. It puts up signs informing all users that they may use either the toilet for their physical sex or to use the gender-neutral toilet if they feel more comfortable doing so.”

Daniele Naddei

Daniele Naddei is a journalist at Parliament News covering European affairs, was born in Naples on April 8, 1991. He also serves as the Director of the CentroSud24 newspaper. During the period from 2010 to 2013, Naddei completed an internship at the esteemed local radio station Radio Club 91. Subsequently, he became the author of a weekly magazine published by the Italian Volleyball Federation of Campania (FIPAV Campania), which led to his registration in the professional order of Journalists of Campania in early 2014, listed under publicists. From 2013 to 2018, he worked as a freelance photojournalist and cameraman for external services for Rai and various local entities, including TeleCapri, CapriEvent, and TLA. Additionally, between 2014 and 2017, Naddei collaborated full-time with various newspapers in Campania, both in print and online. During this period, he also resumed his role as Editor-in-Chief at Radio Club 91.
Naddei is actively involved as a press officer for several companies and is responsible for editing cultural and social events in the city through his association with the Medea Fattoria Sociale. This experience continued until 2021. Throughout these years, he hosted or collaborated on football sports programs for various local broadcasters, including TLA, TvLuna, TeleCapri, Radio Stonata, Radio Amore, and Radio Antenna Uno.
From 2016 to 2018, Naddei was employed as an editor at newspapers of national interest within the circuit, including Internazionale24, Salute24, and OggiScuola. Since 2019, Naddei has been one of the creators of the Rabona television program "Calcio è Passione," which has been broadcast on TeleCapri Sport since 2023.