Gender-neutral toilets could fall foul of building regulations

2 March 2020, 05:54

Gender neutral public toilets have been a source of controversy
Gender neutral public toilets have been a source of controversy. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Single-sex toilets could be guaranteed in public buildings after an outcry over gender-neutral facilities which ministers are concerned could violate building regulations.

Ministers have asked civil servants to investigate whether changes should be made to building regulations to make it clear female-only toilets are an option in public buildings.

Last week Peers in the House of Lords complained that gender-neutral lavatories made women feel uncomfortable and claimed they had been brought in by “woke” public bodies – made women feel uncomfortable.

Public authorities have a duty to provide safe spaces for women in lavatories in buildings. And Ministers are concerned that converting all public toilets to gender-neutral facilities falls foul of such regulations.

The Telegraph newspaper reported officials in the Department for Communities and Local Government have been asked to write to the British Standards Committee to ask whether technical guidance on building regulations needs to be clarified.

A Government source told the newspaper: “It is clear that there needs to be a public service provision for everyone in our community.

“The Government is committed to maintaining safeguards that protect women. Proper provision of separate toilets for both men and for women, which has long been a regulatory requirement, should be retained and improved.”

Conservative backbencher Lord Lucas was raising concerns over the increase of gender-neutral facilities when the peer said women should not have to share public toilets because "there are a number of very strange men in this world".

The peer told a House of Lords debate that half of all toilets and changing rooms in public buildings should be exclusively for women.

Revealing he had been flashed at, the Lord said women also did want to be around "overt male sexual behaviours".

The Tory peer warned single-sex facilities were being taken away from women "without their consent, without their consultation", and the Lord put blame on "woke administrators of public institutions".

Raymond Boyd Martin, managing director of the British Toilet Association, added: “Where space and planning allows, we would always support the concept of separate facilities for females and males.”