Women-only exhibit to become a toilet to keep men out

A museum in Australia is fighting to keep its exhibit women-only after a court ordered that men should be allowed entry under anti-discrimination laws.

Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art appealed on Tuesday to reverse the ruling, arguing it took "too narrow a view on women's historical and ongoing societal disadvantage" and how the Ladies Lounge can "promote equal opportunity".

The court issued its order in April following a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by New South Wales resident Jason Lau, who was denied entry into the lounge.

Kirsha Kaechele, the artist behind the lounge, has said she will challenge the ruling by making the space "compliant" with regulations.

The lounge, which contains some of the museum's most-acclaimed works - from Picasso to Sidney Nolan - has been closed to the public since the court's order.

Ms Kaechele's plans involve transforming the velvet-clad lounge into a women's toilet and a church - which she claims will allow it to continue operating as a women-only space under legal exemptions.

“There is a fabulous toilet coming to the Ladies Lounge, and so in that sense the Ladies Lounge will operate as a ladies’ room.

"It’s a toilet that is celebrated the world round. It is the greatest toilet, and men won’t be allowed to see it," Ms Kaechele said in Australian media reports.

Some of the key artworks, like the ones by Picasso, will be moved into the museum's existing ladies toilet to ensure "uninterrupted viewing" while she applies for other exemptions.

And only on Sundays, men would be allowed into the space - to learn ironing and laundry folding.

"Women can bring in all their clean laundry and the men can go through a series of graceful movements (designed by a Rinpoche and refined by tai chi masters) to fold them," she said, in an interview published by the museum on Tuesday.

Mr Lau's lawsuit has been a "blessing in disguise", she said.

"Thanks to the ruling, we have no choice but to open ourselves to a whole range of enriching experiences - spiritual, educational... to discover fascinating new possibilities, and to become better," she said.

Ms Kaechele previously told the BBC the high-stakes case had made it feel like her artwork was coming to life, and signalled that she would fight it all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.