Petition Require swimming venues to maintain single-sex or private changing facilities

In the context of new policies introduced by swimming venues allowing biological males who identify as women to access female facilities we believe the Government must protect women's access to swimming by ensuring access to safe single-sex or private changing facilities.

More details

Safe single-sex or private facilities are vital to ensure women's safety, privacy and dignity when undressing to swim. This can be particularly important for instance because of trauma from sexual assault or for religious reasons. Facilities or services that are labelled female or women-only must be single-sex (as the Equality Act 2010 allows for). Women should not unexpectedly encounter a naked male in these spaces or be forced to self-exclude from swimming to avoid this possibility.

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Government responded

This response was given on 12 October 2022

Government is committed to maintaining the safeguards that allow organisations to provide single-sex services. We do not plan to announce any changes to the law.

The Government believes that opportunities to play sport and get physically active should be available to everyone, regardless of who they are. We are committed to breaking down the barriers that contribute to the persisting inequalities in participation and want to ensure that everyone can experience the physical, mental and social benefits that come with being active.

Government is committed to maintaining the safeguards that allow organisations to provide single-sex services. The principle of being able to operate spaces reserved for women and girls is central to this. We believe this strikes the right balance and so these protections will be maintained and we do not plan to announce any changes to the law. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have published their guidance on single-sex spaces. The guidance can be accessed at: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/separate-and-single-sex-service-providers-guide-equality-act-sex-and-gender

The Equality Act 2010 makes it clear that providers have the right to restrict use of spaces on the basis of sex and gender reassignment where this is justified. The newly published guidance does not change the legal position or the law. It provides much needed clarity to providers on existing legislation.

Whilst decisions regarding changing facilities are ultimately up to facility owners, Sport England are also working on creating specific guidance around usage of facilities. While this has not yet been finalised, it will reiterate that all sport and physical activity facilities or venues remain responsible for ensuring they meet their legal duties under the Equality Act.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

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