A union representing sex workers in Edinburgh has said plans that could see the capital’s strip clubs closed would discriminate against women.
United Sex Workers members are fighting Edinburgh City Council plans that could see a cap on the number of establishments, with the union fearing job losses and closures if they are banned.
Members of the capital’s regulatory committee are due to vote on Thursday on how many clubs will be allowed in the city, but Danielle Worden, the union’s legal assistant, warned the authority if it set the limit at zero it would launch a legal proceedings review.
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“A policy banning strip clubs would result in a particular disadvantage for women by taking away the livelihoods of hundreds of female workers,” she said, adding that it would constitute “indirect gender discrimination contrary to equality law”.
“Such discrimination can only be justified if it is proportionate, linked to a legitimate aim and based on evidence.
“The only goal cited by nile-cap proponents is to reduce violence against women and girls (VAWG), but there is literally no evidence to show that the existence of strip clubs causes or correlates with VAWG.”
The committee is urged to set the club limit at four or zero, and the council said no sites should be allowed outside the town centre.
If the council decides to ban strip clubs, a report says it must ‘be able to demonstrate that it has weighed the evidence before it and reached a decision that is both rational and proportionate’.
The same report said the ban would result in the closure of existing venues and loss of income for operators, performers and other employees, and it warned: “The committee will also recall hearing evidence suggesting that a zero limit could lead to SEV (Sexual Entertainment Venue) activities taking place in unregulated and unsafe environments.”
And ahead of the city council meeting, Tess Hermann, a stripper and USW branch organizer, said it was “exhausting to be expected to justify our right to work to the people who are supposed to represent us. “.
“As organizers we want to fight for better working conditions, better wages and labor protections, but we can only do that if our workplaces are not constantly at risk of being closed down by our councils” , she said.
If the board bans clubs or limits the number, it must give at least a year’s warning, the board’s report says.
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A public consultation last year found that 44.5 per cent agreed or strongly agreed there should be a limit on the number of clubs in the city, while 37 per cent agreed or strongly agreed agree that there is no limit.
When asked what the limit should be, 20% said there should be no club, while 40% said there should be no limit.
Councilor Catherine Fullerton, head of regulation at the authority, said: “We have consulted extensively on the way forward on this matter with two public consultations and the committee also held three evidence sessions with interested parties. , including the owners and the artists of the places.
“A decision will be taken in committee on Thursday on the future licensing policy for sexual entertainment venues. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”