Wagamama has announced plans to celebrate the first year of London Trans Pride with gender-neutral bathrooms.
At least 40 percent of existing Wagamama’s will have gender-neutral toilets by September 2019, depending on their current design, and all new Wagamama restaurants will incorporate gender-neutral facilities.
A spokesperson for Wagamama stressed that the changes would not “take spaces away from people.”
“In making this move, we don’t want to infringe on others – for example by just rebranding the women’s bathroom as gender-neutral,” said Ross Farquhar, campaigns manager for Wagamama.
“Some restaurants may have only gender-neutral bathrooms; some might have one or two female-only ones in addition.”
The first-ever London Trans Pride will be held on September 14 in east London.
“Over the last 26 years, inclusivity has been a bit of a trademark of ours. But we wondered whether we are doing everything we can, to be as inclusive as we can, to every part of the LGBTQ+ community. We decided we could do a bit more,” said Farquhar.
“It’s not something that most of us have to think about, whether there will be a toilet we can go to when we want to use the toilet. We wanted to make that process easier for people.”
The changes will mean bathrooms at Wagamama’s are private rather than shared spaces.
The first restaurant to feature gender-neutral bathrooms will be the Wagamama test kitchen in Soho, London.
Overall, 50 restaurants are expected to shift to providing gender-neutral bathroom options ahead of London Trans Pride.
The move was welcomed by LGBT+ organisations including Stonewall, whose campaigns manager Laura Russell said, “It’s great Wagamama is introducing gender-neutral facilities across many of their UK restaurants. Having facilities that everyone can use is really welcome.”
“It’s important that businesses take steps to ensure that all their employees and customers are accepted and able to go about their daily lives, whoever they are.”
However, the move has also been criticised.
Harry Gay, who works for the Outside Project, London’s first LGBT+ homeless shelter, told The Guardian: “We have people in our shelter who work in hospitality and aren’t properly paid. Precarious working is often the reason they end up being homeless in the first place.
“If Wagamama want to show true solidarity to our community over this Pride season, they could consider paying all their staff the London living wage. LGBTIQ+ people are overrepresented in hospitality and homelessness statistics and corporations like Wagamama not adopting the London living wage is a key reason for this.”