Women win guarantee over female-only public lavatories The Times 31.10.20

The original article is here.

Women will be guaranteed access to female-only lavatories in public buildings, the government has said.

Evidence has shown that women face increasing difficulties accessing single-sex lavatories because many have been converted into “gender neutral” ones. Women were more likely to have to queue to use public restrooms.

Announcing a review into the number of public lavatories across the country, Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, said: “This is a necessity, and I have listened to the concerns raised by many women and the elderly in relation to this issue. I [want] to establish the best way to deliver this as a priority and make sure that women can expect a sense of dignity, security and safety when using facilities. We want to maintain safeguards that protect women and the proper provision of separate toilets, which has long been a regulatory requirement, should be retained and improved.” The review will also investigate signage. Confusing language is thought to deter elderly people from using facilities.

Last month, the government confirmed that it would not be reforming the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for transgender people to change sex. Liz Truss, the equalities secretary, said: “It is the government’s view that the balance struck in this legislation is correct, in that there are proper checks and balances in the system.”

In a debate in the Commons last month, Nicola Richards, MP for West Bromwich East, told Ms Truss that the reforms she was proposing were “menial” when the waiting list for transition was more than 13,000 people. “The [trans] community are feeling frustrated by the lack of substance in the conclusion to this lengthy consultation,” she said.

Caroline Nokes, the Conservative chairwoman of the women and equalities select committee, announced this week that she was beginning an inquiry into trans equality. She said: “The government has said it wants to make the process of applying for a gender recognition certificate ‘kinder and more straightforward’, make it a fully online process, and reduce the fee. Which is progress — but is it enough?”

The government has said that its review will look at how public lavatories can be made more accessible to disabled people and families with children.

The review will examine the ratio of male restrooms to female ones. It is thought that men are more likely to be able to make use of public lavatories than women. Regulations presently require the provision of single-sex lavatories in schools.

The Home Office installed gender neutral lavatories in 2018. The BBC has gender neutral lavatories in all of its buildings, in addition to lavatories for men and women. Channel 4 installed gender neutral lavatories in 2017.

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