Scottish sex workers are supporting proposed changes in the law to make them safer as they host a gathering in Glasgow to raise awareness of the issue.
Organisations and charities have backed independent MSP Jean Urquhart's proposals to decriminalise
prostitution in Scotland.
Her proposed Prostitution Law Reform (Scotland) Bill would permit more than one sex worker to work from the same premises. A lone sex worker based at home is currently operating within the law but at much greater risk of
violence and theft, while two or more sex workers sharing a space for safety are breaking the law.
Urquhart wants up to four sex workers to be permitted to work collectively from the same premises and a licensing system to be brought in for
premises in which more than four sex workers operate.
Sex worker charity ScotPep, grassroots collective the Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) and community health Project Umbrella Lane support the changes. Speaking ahead of the gathering to mark
the international Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Urquhart said:
When I started speaking with sex workers in Scotland I was struck by what they told me about how the law makes them less safe. It should be
unconscionable that the law makes sex workers so vulnerable to violence and I'm proud to have brought forward proposals that are based on what people who sell sex say will keep them safe.
The Times reports that new laws which have made it illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland have resulted in just one arrest.
Sex worker support groups said that the figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, proved that the measures
could not be enforced.
The legislation, which came into effect in June means that sex workers are no longer able to make basic security checks such as getting to know who their customers are. Meanwhile it has the potential to destroy the lives of
men and their families just for wanting to get laid.
The Northern Ireland justice minister has said he disagrees with plans to make it illegal
to pay for sex in the Republic after The Times reported that just one man was prosecuted under similar legislation in the North.
David Ford said the laws, brought in after a vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly in June, were the result of populism rather than practicalism
and are not useful.