McDonald's sparks Brazil controversy over unisex toilet

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – A McDonald’s restaurant in Brazil was on Sunday (Nov 14) ordered to comply with health regulations by installing separate male and female toilets, after sparking a controversy with its unisex bathroom.

The scandal erupted over a viral video shot from inside the unisex toilet of a McDonald’s restaurant in Bauru, Sao Paulo state.

In the video, a woman who appears to have shot the clip can be heard complaining. 

She said: “This is absurd! Children use these bathrooms. This is communism in our city of Bauru. It’s shameful!”

The video caused such a storm that health officials visited the restaurant and “found that the municipality’s health regulations had not been respected”, Bauru Mayor Suellen Roim said on Twitter.

According to a local law, bathrooms must be “separated and identified, one for each sex”.

McDonald’s has been given two weeks to comply with the regulation or face either a fine or the restaurant’s closure.

The company explained in a statement that it was trying to create areas of “inclusion and respect” so that “everyone feels welcome to use” the bathrooms.

The fast-food chain said it was cooperating with the authorities to “meet certain standards”.

But the issue has riled up the ire of conservatives in a country where questions about gender have become a hot topic since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro – often accused of sexism and homophobia – took power three years ago.

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