Ben Kentish — The Independent Nov 28, 2017
Sadiq Khan is to publish plans to increase the number of gender-neutral toilets in London in order to make life easier for transgender people and those who do not define themselves as either male or female.
The London mayor will issue new guidance that says unisex toilets should be included in new commercial developments in the capital, including shopping centres, cinemas and sporting facilities.
He will also call on developers and local authorities to introduce more “changing places” toilets, which include features such as a height-adjustable sink and a hoist, to help people with disabilities.
The guidance will be included in revisions to the London Plan – the framework for development in London – to be published on Wednesday.
Mr Khan said: “I have vowed to be a mayor for all Londoners so I am determined to ensure that everyone has the ability to enjoy our great city to its fullest.
“Toilets are a vital public service and can help to shape the experience of the capital for those who live here and for those visiting.
“We need a range of toilets that reflect the incredible diversity of this city – giving people the confidence to move around London with dignity.”
Some private companies, including Starbucks, have already installed gender-neutral toilets, as have public spaces such as the Barbican Centre.
The issue of gender-neutral toilets and fitting rooms has proved controversial in recent months. Critics say they remove one of the few “safe spaces” for women.
LGBT rights groups, however, argue that the fact most toilets are designed based on assumptions of binary gender – suggesting people are either male or female – is problematic for trans people and those who do not consider themselves to be either male or female.
Ruth Hunt, chief executive of the charity Stonewall, said: “Gender-neutral toilets are a practical solution for many people, for many reasons and it’s a powerful demonstration of acceptance that has benefits for everyone.
“But this move isn’t just practical, it’s symbolic. By introducing gender-neutral toilets, planners can show that London is a city that cherishes its diverse population.”
However, some groups opposed the new guidance. Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, told the London Evening Standard: “This is the latest casualty of an ideological tsunami that sweeps common sense and biological reality aside.”