Women snub gender-neutral toilets at the UK Government’s Home Office

28th of August 2018
Women snub gender-neutral toilets at the UK Government’s Home Office

Female staff at the London Home Office are boycotting the gender-neutral toilets at work - because men keep using the cubicles with the door open.

Work was carried out last year on converting five male and five female toilets into 10 unisex facilities. Each of the washrooms at the ministry's Westminster headquarters now have three cubicles but no urinals.

The rationale behind the move was to improve conditions for Home Office staff with a spokesman claiming: "We are committed to being an inclusive employer and creating an environment where all staff feel comfortable at work."

But female staff say their own experience has been quite the opposite. Reports that some men are leaving the cubicle door open while using the facilities have prompted female staff to put up a sign objecting to this practice. It reads: "Women are finding use of the toilets quite distressing and are not using these toilets as a result".

Unisex loos have become common since gender-reassignment discrimination was made illegal under the Equality Act 2010. The Home Office is among a growing number of large employers to have introduced them: the BBC has gender-neutral facilities in all its buildings while Channel 4 and Google plan to adopt them soon.

Criticism has been levelled at the Home Office for the £37,000 (€41,000) cost of the move which includes more than £8,000 (€8,900) for signage. And some commentators believe the rationale behind the installation is flawed.

According to Christian Concern chief executive Andrea Minichiello Williams: "We hate to have to state the obvious but men and women need separate, single-sex toilets. This is something women fought hard for in the past - and still fight for in parts of the developing world today."




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