Tories propose ban on gender-neutral toilets in new buildings – including offices and restaurants

Conservative MP and equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch.

All new non-residential buildings will be forced to have separate male and female toilets under proposed legislation from the Conservative-led UK government in an attempt to ban gender-neutral facilities.

A policy proposed by the Department for Levelling Up on Monday (6 May) will prevent all non-domestic new builds, including restaurants, shopping centres, offices, and more, from having gender-neutral toilets.

Equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch, said the long-discussed policy will end the “rise” of gender-neutral toilets and “mixed sex toilet spaces,” which she claims “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.”

A policy ordering non-residential buildings to only construct gendered facilities was proposed in August 2023 to massive criticism from various non-profit organisations and activist groups.

Following a consultation on the proposals, which the government said showed a resounding agreement with the policy, a bill on the matter is expected to be discussed in the next few weeks.

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If approved, the requirements will come into force later this year in 2024.

As part of the regulations, contractors can construct “self-contained universal toilets” which the government said may only be constructed if a “lack of space reasonably precludes provision of single-sex toilet accommodation.”

Residential homes, ensuite facilities, residential rooms in care homes, schools, prison facilities, and premises used for “early years provision” are amongst some of the exemptions to the proposed rules.

In a statement to PinkNews following the initial suggestion of the policy in August, Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, said that she opposed the rules and that gender-neutral facilities are something she stands up for.

“What matters most when it comes to toilets is design. I always point at Portcullis House in Parliament which has bathrooms on every floor, nobody refers to them as gender-neutral bathrooms – they are just bathrooms,” she said.

“If you have lavatory facilities that are each self-contained units, with their own wash basin and hand drier, and wall-to-ceiling walls and doors, and men remember to put the seat down, there really is nothing to complain about,” she continued.

“What we all want is nice, clean, private loos, and in new builds in particular that ought not to be impossible.”