Proposed Laws Would Require Single-Sex Restrooms in New Bars, Restaurants, and Offices

The British government has proposed new laws that will require all new bars, restaurants, offices, and shopping centers to have single-sex toilets. The legislation also allows for the provision of self-contained toilets for both sexes, or a combination of single-sex and self-contained toilets if space permits. However, certain establishments such as care homes, hotels, schools, custodial facilities, and buildings used for early years provision will be exempt from this requirement.

The proposed legislation, which applies to England only, will affect both new buildings and existing premises undergoing a material change of use. The government revealed that in a recent consultation on the matter, 81% of respondents agreed with the intention to have separate single-sex toilet facilities, while 82% supported the provision of universal toilets where space allows.

According to the government, women, the elderly, and disabled individuals have expressed feeling “unfairly disadvantaged” by the presence of gender-neutral toilets where cubicles and hand-washing facilities are shared. This, in turn, leads to longer waiting times, reduced privacy, and a lack of dignity. Minister for women and equalities Kemi Badenoch stated that this legislation will put an end to the rise of so-called “gender-neutral” mixed-sex toilet spaces, which deny privacy and dignity to both men and women. She also noted that the new laws will ensure better provision for women’s specific biological, health, and sanitary needs.

Housing minister Lee Rowley added that the government recognizes the importance of safety, privacy, and dignity for all members of society. He emphasized that the new legislation will ensure that new buildings, particularly in public spaces, have appropriate toilet facilities to serve the community.

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