A Global Movement: Gender Neutral Toilets Around the World

The concept of gender-neutral bathrooms, also known as unisex or all-gender facilities, is sparking discussions and transformations worldwide. While traditionally divided by sex, restrooms are increasingly designed to be inclusive of all genders and gender identities. Let’s explore the landscape of this movement across various countries:

Unisex toilet
Countries with Gender Neutral Bathrooms

Gender Neutral Toilets by Country 


CountryPrevalenceYear StartedNotes
CanadaWidespread1980sEarly adopter, especially in schools and government buildings.
ChinaIncreasingPre-2013Movement gaining momentum, national campaign for implementation.
IndiaLimited2014Mostly in major cities and progressive institutions.
ThailandCommon2013Separate toilets for effeminate male-bodied people began appearing.
United StatesVaried1990sAdoption varies by state and region, California and New York leading the way.
DenmarkCommon1970sWidely available, often called “unisex toilets” or “all-gender toilets.” City of Copenhagen promotes them in public spaces.
FinlandCommon1970sSimilar to Denmark, widespread in public spaces, schools, and workplaces. May be labelled “unisex toilets” or “gender-neutral toilets.”
IcelandCommon1970sWidely adopted, often called “unisex toilets” or “all-gender toilets.” Law requires gender-neutral toilets in new public buildings.
NorwayCommon1970sSimilar to other Scandinavian countries, widespread availability. May be labelled “unisex toilets” or “gender-neutral toilets.” Government agencies and municipalities encourage or require them.
SwedenCommon1970sSimilar to other Scandinavian countries, widespread availability. May be labelled “unisex toilets” or “gender-neutral toilets.” Government encourages their construction in new public buildings.
GermanyGrowingLate 2000sIncreasing number, especially in new buildings.
FranceLimited but increasing2010sMostly in universities, cultural centers, and some airports.
United KingdomMixed2010sGrowing awareness but implementation varies, recent government pushback.
Australia and New ZealandGenerally accepted1990sMany public spaces, schools, and workplaces offer options.
NepalEmerging2020sDriven by LGBTQ+ advocacy, appearing in public spaces and universities.
Many other countriesLimited availabilityVariesIncreasing presence in specific contexts or pilot programs.

Design Variations in Unisex Public Toilets:

Unisex public toilets are increasingly embraced worldwide, offering diverse designs to cater to various needs and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of common approaches, often backed by government research and initiatives:

Single-Occupancy Toilets:

  • Prevalence: Common in various countries, including Canada, Sweden, and Thailand.
  • Government Support: Canada’s National Building Code encourages single-occupancy unisex toilets in new public buildings.
  • Benefits: Enhanced privacy and accessibility for families, people with disabilities, and those requiring assistance.

Multi-User Toilets with Shared Sinks:

  • Prevalence: Widespread in Europe, Scandinavia, and parts of Asia.
  • Government Support: The UK Equality Act (2010) encourages accessibility features in toilets, supporting gender-neutral designs.
  • Benefits: Efficient use of space, promotes inclusivity and reduces wait times.

Multi-User Toilets with Private Sinks:

  • Prevalence: Gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, and the US.
  • Government Support: California legislation encourages gender-neutral facilities in new state buildings, often with individual sinks.
  • Benefits: Offers high privacy while maintaining inclusivity, ideal for larger spaces.

Converted Traditional Toilets:

  • Prevalence: Often seen in renovation projects or budget-conscious settings.
  • Government Support: Some countries, like France, offer financial incentives for converting existing toilets to gender-neutral options.
  • Benefits: Quick and cost-effective way to increase gender-neutral availability.

Space-Constrained Environments:

  • Prevalence: Standard in airplanes, trains, and other compact settings.
  • Government Support: International regulations ensure accessibility standards in transportation, often aligning with unisex designs.
  • Benefits: Efficient use of limited space while upholding inclusivity.

Accessibility Considerations:

  • Prevalence: Many countries, including India and Nepal, advocate for accessible features in all public toilets, ensuring unisex options cater to diverse needs.
  • Government Support: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities emphasizes accessible sanitation facilities, impacting national building codes and regulations.
  • Benefits: Promotes inclusivity and ensures everyone has comfortable and dignified access to restrooms.

By offering a variety of design solutions supported by government research and initiatives, unisex public toilets aim to foster a more inclusive and accessible environment for all users.

Unisex Bathrooms: Your Simple Guide

What does unisex mean in a bathroom?

A unisex bathroom is one that anyone can use, regardless of their gender identity. Unlike traditional bathrooms separated by “men” and “women,” unisex bathrooms are open to everyone.

What is a unisex bathroom for?

Unisex bathrooms are designed to be:

  • Inclusive: They provide a safe and comfortable space for people of all genders, including transgender individuals and those who don’t identify with the binary.
  • Accessible: They cater to people with disabilities who may require assistance from someone of a different gender.
  • Efficient: They reduce lines and wait times, especially in single-occupancy facilities.

Can two people be in a unisex bathroom?

It depends! Some unisex bathrooms are single-occupancy, meaning only one person can use them at a time. Others are larger and can accommodate multiple people. Always check the signs to see how many people are allowed in at once.

Can a man go in a women’s restroom, and vice versa?

In most countries, separate-sex bathroom laws and social norms discourage this. However, some situations might call for it, like a parent needing to assist a child of the opposite sex, or someone needing to use an accessible stall only available in the opposite-sex restroom. In these cases, discretion and respect are crucial.

Are unisex toilets a good idea?

It depends on your perspective. Some people prefer the privacy of separate bathrooms, while others appreciate the inclusivity and convenience of unisex options. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference and what works best for a particular community or situation.

Remember, the key is to be respectful of everyone using the bathroom, regardless of their gender identity.


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