Government pushes ahead to make single-sex toilets compulsory in all new restaurants, bars, offices and shopping centres

Graham Robson May 6, 2024

The Government has announced that single-sex toilets in England will become a legal requirement for all new restaurants, bars, offices and shopping centres later this year, meaning it will be compulsory to provide separate facilities for men and women.

The law will apply to new non-residential buildings, but existing businesses could also be caught by the rules if they undergo major renovations.

A consultation highlighted concerns from women, elderly and disabled people who felt “unfairly disadvantaged” by toilets being converted into gender neutral facilities sharing cubicles and sinks, the government said.

But transgender rights groups argue gender-neutral toilets can protect trans people from discrimination.

The rights groups say that, along with other people who do not conform to the gender binary, trans people can face intrusive challenges when using male or female toilets.

Kemi Badenoch, the women and equalities minister, said: “These regulations will guide organisations to design unisex and single-sex toilets, ending the rise of so-called ‘gender-neutral’ mixed sex toilet spaces, which deny privacy and dignity to both men and women.

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

“This is following our work last week limiting the use of mixed-sex wards in the NHS and demonstrates how this government is committed to ensuring single-sex spaces are protected for all.”

Mermaids, the transgender youth support charity, said in response to the government proposals: “In order to ensure everyone is served fairly and that everyone can feel comfortable using public toilet facilities, not only are gender-specific facilities in which trans people can feel safe in using vital, but gender-neutral facilities are also greatly necessary to ensure non-binary people’s experiences with toilet facilities are one of comfort.”