The Lyric Hammersmith has been criticised for leaving female theatregoers “uncomfortable” with their gender-inclusive lavatories which feature five urinals and one cubicle.
The London theatre claims that it provides a range of facilities “to meet the needs of all the individuals who use our building”.
However, Joan Smith, a journalist, author and member of the Sex Matters Advisory Group, claims she was left feeling “incredibly uncomfortable” after using the theatre's "all gender" lavatory.
The women’s rights campaigner visited the theatre on Tuesday evening to watch Accidental Death of an Anarchist. However, during the interval, she did not have time to find a gender-specific lavatory and so “reluctantly” used an "all-gender" one behind the main bar.
“I was confronted with five urinals which I had to pass to get to a single locking cubicle,” she said.
“I felt incredibly uncomfortable about the lack of privacy for myself and any man who might come in; indeed a man entered as I was about to leave, looked very embarrassed and left without using the urinals.
“I do not wish to see a man’s penis in a public place and I doubt whether many men want to expose themselves in this way.”
She has since written to the theatre, as well as Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, to voice her concerns.
“There are plenty of religious women who can't be in a private space with men,” Ms Smith said, and argued it was unclear whether a man can use the theatre’s gender-specific toilets if they “have a gender identity of being female”
She also tweeted a picture of the lavatories in question which feature a picture of five urinals and one lavatory on the door beneath the words: “All genders welcome”. Inside, there is an empty picture of the room depicting multiple urinals and one cubicle.
In July last year, Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, announced that all new public buildings should have separate male and female lavatories.
In a government press release unveiling the plans at the time, ministers noted that “the rise in ‘gender neutral’ toilets raised safety concerns from women who feel they are losing privacy and being unfairly disadvantaged”.
A spokeswoman for the theatre said: “The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre is inclusive and welcoming to all. We provide a range of lavatory facilities to meet the needs of all the individuals who use our building.
“These include gender specific, all gender, private accessible and changing places facilities. Our all-gender toilets were introduced in 2018 as part of our strategy for inclusivity and equality.”
It comes as a new study, published on Wednesday, revealed that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of Gen Z now identify using a non-gendered pronoun such as 'they/them'.
The survey of 2,036 people, conducted by OnePoll, found that younger generations are eagerly embracing issues around birth sex and gender identification.
Nearly half (48 per cent) of those aged 18-24 now state their pronoun on their email signature or social profiles, and overall, nearly half (45 per cent) of those polled were supportive of people having the right to identify with a gender other than their birth sex, with 34 per cent against and 19 per cent undecided.
However, the study also found that a majority of the British public think the debate has gone too far, with 62 per cent saying the issue is now 'disproportionately pandering to the wishes of a small minority'. This rises to 78 per cent among the over-65s but falls to 48 per cent of Gen Z (those aged 18 to 24).