• Tuesday, May 21, 2024


‘Common sense’ decision on gender-neutral toilets

Unisex toilets, where men and women mingle sometimes in intimate spaces, are not for British Asians, given they are conservative in such matters

 Kemi Badenoch

By: Amit Roy

GENDER-NEUTRAL or unisex toilets, where men and women mingle sometimes in intimate spaces, are not for British Asians, given they are conservative in such matters. 

 The National Portrait Gallery in London, which had separate toilets, has come back after its £41.3 million renovation with unisex toilets. They have also been introduced at the Lyric Hammersmith. 

 Kemi Badenoch, the business and trade secretary plus the minister for women and equalities, has quite sensibly announced that all new buildings open to the public will have to include single-sex male and female lavatories. 

 She said the government must step in when “common sense disappears”. 

 Unisex toilets are fully enclosed spaces with lockable doors and sinks. Gender-neutral toilets, on the other hand, are mixed-sex facilities where both men and women use the same cubicles and sinks. 

 “My job is increasingly spent legislating for common sense and stopping those intent on causing harm,” Badenoch said. “Women should have exclusive access to public toilet facilities reserved specifically for them. Men should have the same. Female loos should have cubicles, while male ones can have urinals. 

 “Transgender individuals should have privacy. The signage on the door should clearly indicate what to expect.” 

 She criticised the Old Vic Theatre in London for its decision in 2019 to convert all of its male and female toilets to gender-neutral facilities. She also mentioned that doctors had recently reported instances where girls in certain schools either contracted infections or skipped classes entirely due to their reluctance to use gender-neutral toilets. 

 Once upon a time, it was the practice for upper class husbands and wives to have separate bedrooms with attached bathrooms. I remember in 1992 when Prince Charles and Princess Diana went to India on an official visit, an official from the Indian president’s staff briefed the British press party on the wing in Rashtrapati Bhavan which the Princess of Wales would occupy. Charles would be in an other wing of the presidential palace. “Ah, separate bedrooms,” exclaimed my tabloid colleagues. “This means their marriage is in trouble.” 

 As it turned out, it was, but others pointed out that among the British aristocracy, men and women had separate bedrooms. On a recent visit to Chartwell, the guide pointed out the bedroom that was occupied by Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine. This allowed upper class women to have two advantages – maintain a certain romance and mystery in their marriage, and also slip in lovers in big mansions (like the fictional Downton Abbey) without the husband finding out. 

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