Unisex public toilets are attack on women’s rights – Kenny MacAskill

Whether it’s coronavirus and the shutting of public facilities or just being a man of a certain age, I take greater interest in the availability of public toilets than I ever did.

Edinburgh is planning unisex public toilets
Edinburgh is planning unisex public toilets

So you’d think I’d welcome Edinburgh Council’s announcement of a multi-million pound investment in their upgrade. Of course, I do in part, as toilet closures have been a problem in many areas of the city and some that remain are long overdue an upgrade.

But I have concerns as part of the investment seems predicated on moving towards unisex toilets. Why? There may be areas where cost and circumstances make that right by providing a sensible compromise. But in most parts I sense women would prefer to have their own single sex space and for good reason. There’s privacy and security that otherwise may be lacking in unisex ones.

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Indeed women’s toilets or the lack thereof have been an issue for much of my life, whether at football grounds or in pubs. Providing more of them, rather then fewer through a push to unisex, is surely what most women want?

But this is just the manifestation of an agenda that’s resulting in the loss of hard earned-women’s rights. In my earlier years many in the left ignored the issue, arguing that it was a distraction from the class struggle. That was wrong, as women’s rights and indeed equality for all are fundamental to social justice.

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Now though the risk is that women’s rights are being lost and in particular single sex spaces through a denial of there being a female sex. It’s not just in Edinburgh’s public toilets as its also happening in other areas like schools. Its ultimate manifestation is in the prison estate where men can self-identify as women and seek placement in the women’s estate.

The GRA debate will be returning to Holyrood. It’s not just a political debate and it is certainly not transphobic. It’s about recognising that women have rights and there are some spaces that cannot and should not be either unisex. or capable of being accessed simply by a man declaring they’re a woman.



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