Fake News: Government Did NOT Announces Every UK Home Must Have Gender-Neutral Toilet by 2021

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Government Did NOT Announces Every UK Home Must Have Gender-Neutral Toilet by 2021

Do homes in the U.K. need to have a gender-neutral toilet by 2021 unless they want to face a £5000 fine? No, that's not true: it was a rumor that originated on a satire website.

The story originated on the Southend News Network on March 29, 2018 and was titled "Government announces every UK home must have gender-neutral toilet by 2021" (archived here) and opened:

A spokesperson for the Department of Agricture and Equalities has confirmed that every home in Britain will be required to have a designated gender-neutral toilet by the end of March 2021.

Junior minister for the DAE Julian Fin De Cloche told a packed press conference that it was time for every home in Britain to provide an inclusive and non-discriminatory toilet environment.

Mr Fin De Cloche added, 'From March 2021, if you invite someone into your home to use your facilities and they would rather not be pigeon-holed into a 'Gents' or 'Ladies' toiletarial classification, you could be liable for a £5000 fine if you only have a toilet that has been aligned to a particular gender.'

There is no "Department of Agricture and Equalities" and "Fin De Cloche" is just a literal French translation of "bell-end" (a slang term in the UK for a part of the male anatomy or an idiot). The Southend News Network has used that same name before in another story.

This story looked superficially like a real news article when viewed in isolation on social media:

Government announces every UK home must have gender-neutral toilet by 2021

A spokesperson for the Department of Agricture and Equalities has confirmed that every home in Britain will be required to have a designated gender-neutral toilet by the end of March 2021. Junior minister for the DAE Julian Fin De Cloche told a packed press conference that it was time for every home in Britain to...

We wrote about southendnewsnetwork.net and some of their satire articles that were believed to be real before:

The Southend News Network is a satirical site pretending to be a news organisation by the English coast in Southend. They have a disclaimer on their about page that reads (in part):

Southend News Network was originally started in October 2015 with no real aims or objectives in mind other than to add a satirical/spoof-like touch to issues that people are passionate about in Southend On Sea. Above all else, SNN is all about having the occasional 'dig' at the powers that be, as well a slightly bigger and more frequent 'dig' at certain elements of local media!

Several of their stories have been mistaken for real news in the past and the site was recognized by the local authorities as an "official news outlet".

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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