Single-sex toilets to be mandatory in new bars and restaurants

The new law aims to combat concerns over ‘privacy and dignity’ by introducing separate facilities for men and women.

Updated on • Written By Ellie Donnell

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Single-sex toilets to be mandatory in new bars and restaurants

Single-sex toilets are to become a legal requirement for any newly built non-residential building, including restaurants, bars, hospitality venues, shopping centres and offices.

The new law aims to combat concerns over ‘privacy and dignity’ in gender-neutral facilities, by providing separate toilets for men and women.

However, self-contained toilets for both sexes may be provided, either instead or in addition, if there is not enough space for single-sex toilets. Self-contained toilets are defined as fully enclosed facilities with a hand wash basin for individual use.


Government ministers gathered at the weekend to conduct a consultation process about the proposed changes. According to the results, 81% of respondents agreed ‘with the intention for separate single-sex toilet facilities’, while 82% 'agreed with the intention to provide universal toilets where space allows’.

It also revealed that women, the elderly and disabled people said they feel ‘unfairly disadvantaged’ by gender-neutral toilets where they have to share cubicles and sinks.

The government said that it also leads to increased waiting in shared queues, decreased choice and less privacy and dignity.

Kemi Badenoch, the minister for women and equalities, said the move will prevent ‘the rise of so-called gender-neutral' toilet spaces, which ‘deny privacy and dignity to both men and women’.

She said in a statement: ‘Today’s announcement will also create better provision for women so that our particular biological, health and sanitary needs are met.’

Along with applying to newly built buildings, the new legislation will also apply to non-residential buildings undergoing major renovation works. However, the law will not apply to care homes, hotels, schools and cells in custody suites.

In other news, a fall in inflation rates last month means that eating out could be about to get cheaper. 

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