The Facebook group titled “We are against Pinkdot in Singapore” responded to the photograph by calling for a boycott of Suntec City.
One Facebook user by the name of “Siti Hannah” wrote: “Apparently it is true. Are there any petitions for us to vote to take this down? Why is Singapore doing this? I fear for my children’s future.”
Another user going by the name “Nadia Natasha Rasid” wrote: “This is just the beginning. Shocking that this minority can be so pervasive in getting their agenda adhered to.”
COMMENTS FROM PASSERS-BY
On Wednesday when TODAY visited the toilets, it asked some passers-by about their opinions of the move.
Mr Koh Ming Sheng, 22, a Nanyang Technological University student said: “It’s inclusive and it’s a good step.” However, he voiced concerns about the safety of having a restroom that openly serves all genders.
“I don’t know if it’s safe,” he said, adding that it might attract sex-related crime activity such as the installation of hidden cameras to spy on users.
PinkDot SG, an advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, clarified the misperception that gender-neutral toilets were more likely to cause sex-related crime.
“Multiple studies have shown that there is no increased risk of sex crimes in gender-neutral toilets. That being said, it is important to take steps to prevent harassment of any kind from happening in restrooms, including gender-neutral toilets,” it added.
“This may include providing adequate security and training staff on how to handle reports of sexual misconduct or gender-based harassment or violence.”
Given the choice between male or gender-neutral toilets, Mr Koh said that he would stick to male toilets. “I don’t mind using it if there’s one and if it’s urgent, (but) I’d rather let those who need it use it.”
For Mr Alex Ong, 37, this is the quality engineer’s first time seeing a gender-neutral toilet. He agreed that this was “a good step” and, in a practical sense, saves space when building toilets.
WHAT THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY SAYS
PinkDot SG said that gender-neutral toilets help to provide a safe space for those who need it.
“LGBTQ+ people, particularly gender non-conforming individuals, may be subjected to verbal abuse, physical assault or other forms of discrimination in traditional gender-segregated toilets.
“A gender-neutral toilet signals that everyone is welcome to use the space and protects the safety and dignity of gender non-conforming individuals.”
It also said that any fears that this trend would mean an end to traditional male and female toilets were unfounded.
“We understand that this is a particularly sensitive issue. Phasing out traditional washrooms shouldn’t be the goal here and is probably not entirely practical in the near term.
“What we should be asking is: How can we ensure everyone has access to a comfortable, safe and inclusive environment for something as fundamental as using the bathroom.”
Rather than having only one type of restroom, Pink Dot SG stated that having the option and availability of both gender-neutral and gender-segregated toilets is the goal.
“This would allow people to choose the restroom that is the safest and most comfortable for them.”
Mr Leow Yangfa, executive director of non-profit group Oogachaga, said having a gender-neutral toilet ensures a safe space for those whose gender expression does not align with what society thinks a man or woman should typically appear as.
For example, this can be a man with long hair and makeup, or a woman with short hair and wearing gender-neutral clothing, said Mr Leow.
“This may or may not have to do with their sexual orientation (being LGB), but it’s more about how others assume their gender based on how they look (gender expression).
Mr Leow said it might be helpful to reframe the perspective that gender-neutral toilets are only “important” to members of the LGBTQ community. Gender-neutral toilets are useful to people outside the LGBTQ community as well, added Mr Leow.
Gender-neutral toilets can be used by many groups of people, including trans and gender-diverse people, the elderly, parents with young children, wheelchair users and other people with disabilities.
“This is to avoid the popular misconception that ‘LGBTQ+ people are looking for special treatment’. We are not. It is an issue of accessing public facilities in order to fulfil a basic bodily function,” he said.
Additional reporting by Loraine Lee. This story was originally published in TODAY.
This content was originally published here.