A Glasgow arts venue has come under fire for claiming there is "no evidence" unisex toilets have caused problems.

The claim comes following after the police were called after an incident in the new toilets. 

The Tramway turned its ground floor male and female toilets into mixed gender bathrooms in August last year by changing signage to "cubicles" and "cubicles and urinals".

Carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) one year on, bosses at the Pollokshields venue concluded there was "little or no evidence" the move would have a negative effect. 

But the assessment, made public on July 2, did not mention that police attended after a report of a man behaving in a sexually threatening way in the former women's toilets.

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Susan Smith, a spokeswoman for women and girls campaign group ForWomen.Scot, said: "In opening up the women's toilets, Tramway created the situation in which a man could and did take advantage of the chance to harass a woman.

"The fact that it was not possible to identify the assailant is no reason for them to deliberately ignore the threat to women on their premises."

While the ground floor toilets have been changed to mixed gender, the first floor toilets remain male and female.

Anyone wishing to use a single-sex toilet while downstairs in the venue can use the accessible lavatories.

Kate Diver, a Tramway regular, said the venue had failed in its bid to be inclusive.

The mum-of-two said: "I think we need to be absolutely clear here: the way these toilets are now configured does nothing but open up a formerly woman-only space to men.

"Women are unlikely to use the toilets with urinals, especially as, the last time I was there, they had not been fitted with sanitary bins.

"The new configuration is great for parents but, again, parents are not going to take children into the toilets where unknown adult men are using urinals.

"So Tramway has - without malice and without meaning to - created a space for men and a space for everyone else.

"It is a fact that women need more toilet provision than men but Tramway has taken women's toilet provision away."

"That is the opposite of how inclusion and equality is supposed to work."

Glasgow Life said feedback surveys were available to customers at the end of 2018 with the returns showing overwhelming support for the change.

Of 189 returned surveys, 178 agreed with the mixed sex provision and 19 written formal complaints were made.

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With 107,531 visitors to Tramway during the availability of the questionnaire, the returns represent 0.18 per cent of visitors.

Susan said: "The impact assessments are partial and biased, with a survey reaching a paltry 0.18 per cent of visitors.

"The fact that they try to claim queues will be reduced while they have, in effect, opened the ladies to all and sundry, while the urinals in the old gents will deter anyone but males, gives the lie to this assertion.

"Tramway brushes off the difficulties for older women, even though sex and age are protected characteristics and self ID gender is not."

A spokesman for Glasgow Life, on behalf of Tramway, said: "The EQIA did mention the nature of the complaints, such as concerns about safety.

"However, we do not provide details that may lead to the identification of anyone responding to customer feedback or complaints within a public facing document.

"With regard to the specific incident, police were called but we were later informed by Police Scotland that following interviews with the person who made the complaint they were not progressing with the matter.


"The change in toilets signage offers trans and non-binary people a choice.

"It has been observed that parents have been bringing their children to the toilet without urinals.

"The parents may, in fact, be trans or non-binary or the children maybe - we do not determine at the point of people using the toilet how they self-identify."

Susan added: "Why was there a need for this in the first place? Who is driving this decision?

"It's quite clear women need single-sex spaces. We are not trying to be exclusionary here but why did they take the women's provision away?"

The spokesman for Glasgow Life added: “Tramway provides four accessible toilets, two sets of female toilets, two male toilets and two gender-neutral toilets.

"Along with improved signage, this provides a range of toilet facilities which allows increased choice for all of our customers to decide what is appropriate for their needs.”

This article appeared as an exclusive in our sister paper, The Evening Times