Single-sex toilets mandatory in new bars, restaurants and offices under proposed laws | UK News

Single-sex toilets are set to become a legal requirement for all new bars, restaurants, offices and shopping centres under new laws proposed by the government.

Self-contained toilets for both sexes may be provided in addition to single-sex toilets, or if there isn’t enough space.

Care homes, hotels, schools, cells in custodial facilities, and buildings used for early years provision are all exempt from the proposed legislation.

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

The government said that in a consultation on the proposals, 81% of respondents agreed “with the intention for separate single-sex toilet facilities” while 82% “agreed with the intention to provide universal toilets where space allows”.

It said that women, the elderly and disabled people said they felt “unfairly disadvantaged” by gender-neutral toilets “where users share cubicle and hand-washing facilities”. 

“This leads to increasing waiting in shared queues, decreased choice and less privacy and dignity,” the government said.

Minister for women and equalities Kemi Badenoch claimed the legislation will end “the rise of so-called ‘gender-neutral’ mixed sex toilet spaces, which deny privacy and dignity to both men and women.

Kemi Badenoch making a speech in March. Pic: PA
Kemi Badenoch speaking during a press conference in March. Pic: PA

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

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Meanwhile, housing minister Lee Rowley said: “We know all members of society value safety, privacy and dignity, and this new legislation will help ensure the right facilities are in place for everyone.

“It is vital that new buildings, particularly in public spaces, are serving the community with the right toilet provision.”

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