Kemi Badenoch told to stop ‘obsessing over toilets’ by Labour’s Anneliese Dodds

On the left Kemi Badenoch is pictured walking out of government buildings. On the right Anneliese Dodds is pictured speaking to the press.

Shadow women and equalities minister Anneliese Dodds has told Kemi Badenoch that she should focus on “getting on with her job” instead of “obsessing over toilets”.

Badenoch, the women and equalities minister, laid out her plans to stop non-residential new buildings from having gender-neutral toilets in a Telegraph article on Sunday (13 August). 

The draft proposals would mean that single-sex toilet facilities would have to be provided for both men and women in any new buildings.

Writing in the Telegraph, Badenoch laid out what “best practice toilet design” should look like, arguing that women should have “exclusive access to public toilet facilities reserved specifically for them” and that “men should have the same”.

The announcement comes amid a broader campaign by the Tories to crack down on trans and non-binary people’s rights – in recent months it’s been reported that the government wants to ban trans students from using the correct bathrooms in schools, and is considering amending the Equality Act to make it easier to exclude trans people from single-sex spaces.

Anneliese Dodds, Badenoch’s shadow cabinet counterpart, suggested the toilets announcement serves as a distraction.

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She told PinkNews: “Rather than focusing on the cost-of-living crisis facing families or tackling the biggest ever NHS waiting list, Conservative minsters are instead appointing a toilet Tsar to decide how many toilets buildings have.

Anneliese Dodds Labour
Labour no longer supports self-ID for trans people. (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

“Kemi Badenoch has failed to produce schools guidance or bring forward a ban on abusive conversion practices. Rather than obsessing over toilets she should be getting on with her job.”

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Dodds added: “Labour knows that there are times when toilets will need to be single-sex space, which can include individual unisex cubicles. But it is for service providers to decide what is most appropriate, not politicians to police toilets. There is common sense guidance on this from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.” 

Dodds and Labour have faced recent criticism for dropping their commitment to self-ID.

Kemi Badenoch ‘should be ashamed’ of gender-neutral toilet policy

Kate Osborne, Labour MP for Jarrow, described the policy as the government’s latest “attack on trans people”.

“At a time when millions are living in poverty unable to afford bills or food, NHS waiting lists are growing and businesses are collapsing, this government is focused on stoking a culture war, whipping up hate and discriminating against trans and non-binary people,” Osborne told PinkNews.

“Continuing to use vile rhetoric like ‘cracking down’ as if trans people do not have human rights anymore, this government should be ashamed of the way they are behaving, they know what they are doing.

“It’s a deliberate attempt to alienate and chuck the trans community under a bus to distract from the mess they have made of the country.” 

Kemi Badenoch walking down a London street.
Kemi Badenoch wrote to the EHRC requesting guidance on defining ‘sex’ in the Equality Act. (Getty)

The UK’s increasingly embattled trans community reacted to the news with frustration and weariness.

Fox Fisher, a non-binary artist and filmmaker, said their initial reaction to the guidance was “disbelief and disappointment”. 

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“It seems the government is using a non-issue to instigate fear and distract rom the real issues at hand, such as the cost-of-living crisis, austerity, homelessness, and climate change,” Fisher told PinkNews.

“The presence of gender-neutral bathrooms does not pose a threat or inconvenience to anyone. In fact, they’ve been around for ages and are commonly used in various places including our homes, airplanes, and trains. Everyone’s loo at home is gender neutral.” 

Fisher added: “It’s questionable if the government’s claim to protect single-sex spaces for women is their genuine motivation. The sudden wariness towards gender-neutral washrooms feels like a smokescreen, an attempt to appeal to transphobic sentiments and exploit trans people as political pawns for their own gain. 

“It’s a worrying trend, where prejudice is being used as a tool for political manoeuvring.”

Kate Osborne, MP for Jarrow and a member of the Labour Party, is seen pictured at a pro-refugee rally in Parliament Square.
Kate Osborne, MP for Jarrow and a member of the Labour Party, is pictured at a pro-refugee rally in Parliament Square. (Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

Their message to Kemi Badenoch is simple and to the point: “The creation of needless fear and perpetuating discrimination against the trans community is not a solution to any problem. Unfortunately, it’s a step back in our journey towards inclusively and equality.

“Policies should be made to protect and respect all individuals, not to stoke fear and division among them.”

Heather Herbert, a political campaigner, said Badenoch’s announcement was a “deliberate and calculated attack on some of the most marginalised people in Britain”. 

“Any pretence that the government, in any way, cares about LGBTQI+ people has been stripped away. This is an out-and-out attack on us.”

The Government Equalities Office declined to comment.

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