A win against wokeness: Women have a right to female-only lavatories Telegraph 28.02.20

The original article is here.

Women look set to be guaranteed female-only lavatories in public buildings after an outcry over the trend towards gender-neutral facilities.

Increasing numbers of publicly accessible lavatories – like those at The Old Vic theatre in London – are being converted into facilities that can be used by all.

However, public authorities have a duty to provide safe spaces for women in the lavatories in their buildings, and making all facilities gender-neutral may fall foul of building regulations.

Several peers complained this week that gender-neutral lavatories – which one Tory peer, Lord Lucas, said had been introduced by “woke” public bodies – made women feel uncomfortable.

The Conservative hereditary peer called on the Government to explain the terms of the existing law better so managers of public buildings recognised they were able to make lavatories male or female only.

Civil servants in the Department for Communities and Local Government have now been asked to write to the British Standards Committee to ask whether technical guidance on building regulations needs to be clarified to make it explicit that women must have access to female-only facilities.

A Government source said: “It is clear that there needs to be a public service provision for everyone in our community and all people should be treated with dignity and respect.

“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.”

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Lucas said of the trend for gender-neutral lavatories: “Women do not want to wash bloody underwear in front of men. What is the justification for making women feel unsafe, where now they feel safe?”

Welcoming the rethink this weekend, Lord Lucas told The Daily Telegraph: “I am delighted that the Government is to make sure public buildings provide properly safe spaces for women.

“I hope they will also make sure that there are enough such spaces to meet demand – or at least to provide for women’s needs equally with men’s.”

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

The Old Vic was criticised when it converted all of its male and female lavatories to gender-neutral facilities last autumn. The number of toilets increased from 22 to 44, although 18 of them were urinals that could only be used by men.

Sarah Ditum, a columnist for The Spectator magazine, said after the refurbishment: “The Old Vic’s lavatories have gone from ‘not enough’ to ‘none at all’.

“Patrons are, in theory, free to ‘self-select’ from blocks labelled stalls-only and blocks containing urinals. The problem is obvious: women cannot use urinals.

“That means there are 44 toilets for men, but only 26 for women, and only that many for women who are willing to run the gauntlet of penis to get to the stalls alongside the urinals.

“So provision continues to favour men, but in some ways the situation is even worse than it was before because now men have free access to the only toilets that women can use.”

She added: “A theatre with inadequate women’s toilets, or without women’s toilets at all, is a theatre that doesn’t care whether there are women in its audience.”

The Old Vic said last October that four out of five visitors either agreed or neither agreed nor disagreed with the redesignation of its lavatories as gender-neutral facilities.

It also said 23 of the lavatories “are contained within units that contain only cubicled loos in addition to one gender-neutral loo (with enclosed sink) and two wheelchair-accessible loos (with enclosed sink)”.

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