A new bill to make prostitution illegal in Scotland is to be put before the Scottish parliament this week.
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant wants to see a bill fast-tracked through Holyrood, claiming it will reduce demand for prostitution by criminalising those who buy sex. She said the proposals could be passed rapidly through the parliamentary process as the
previous consultation meant there was no need to repeat this:
Practical, operational, legal, equality and financial considerations have been explored to a sufficient degree to test, develop and refine my specific proposal and enable me to proceed towards the development of a bill. I have continued to
liaise with organisations on this topic.
Views expressed to me so far, as part of my on-going engagement with a number of bodies, the public and others with an interest in this proposal, confirm that the views expressed during the formal consultation process have not changed.
Currently kerb crawling, running brothels and soliciting for prostitution are all outlawed in Scotland but it is still legal for an adult to pay another adult for sex without any offence being committed.
The SNP Government says it will give careful consideration to the new proposals after similar plans were rejected two years ago. Former Labour MSP Trish Godman's proposals in the Criminal Justice and Licensing bill were turned down by
ministers who feared it would make the problem less visible to the authorities.
Grant, a Highland and Islands list MSP, is essentially taking over the Godman proposals, and will tell Holyrood's justice committee this week that she thinks there is no need to go through the lengthy consultation process that usually accompanies
new bills again.
The original bill met with concerns from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), which warned that it could drive prostitution off the street and into areas where it is harder to identify vulnerable women and enforce
the law. Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told MSPs on the justice committee he was not looking for additional powers in this area.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: Prostitution damages the individuals caught up in selling sex and the communities involved. It is a complex issue which requires careful consideration to ensure that any additional measures which may be
required to be put in place are necessary, practicable and sustainable. We will give careful consideration to any bill which Rhoda Grant brings forward on this matter.
Rhoda Grant is to press ahead with her selfish plans to criminalise prostitution in Scotland but her attempt to fast-track new legislation through parliament was blocked..
Holyrood's justice committee ruled that a 12-week consultation on the measures, which would make it an offence for someone to purchase sex from another adult, must be carried out by Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant who said:
I look forward to hearing the responses to the further consultation on these proposals.
Overwhelmingly, the feedback that I have received to date makes clear that reducing the demand for prostitution can be achieved by making the purchasing of sex illegal.
I look forward to the parliament considering more consultation feedback in the coming months and a full debate on my proposals that will protect Scottish women.
Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, from the Department of Psychological Sciences, Birbeck, University of London, has researched and written about the sex industry. She said the Scottish legislation proposal was not supported by any evidence that it
would help sex workers.
It's McCarthyism in the bedroom
The prisons are at bursting point so to fill them with people who use prostitutes and to give them a criminal record is lunacy.
It would be a retrograde step and would make things worse.
The people this legislation would most harm are the people they are proposing to help.
She said the best way to protect sex workers was to treat violence against them as a hate crime and build a strong relationship between the police and prostitutes so they felt that if they approached them for help their complaint would be taken
A proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex has found support according to the results of a public consultation.
Almost 1,000 people responded to Labour MSP Rhoda Grant's plan which she hopes will become law in Scotland. Of the total, 80% favour her ban. Grant claimed:
There has been an excellent response, and I now hope we can use the evidence provided to change society's attitude towards buying and selling sex, thereby protecting vulnerable people.
The primary argument that the demand to buy sex will decrease was acknowledged in the responses of those in favour and against the proposed Bill. This would have a knock-on effect on sex trafficking as Scotland would not be seen as a profitable
market by traffickers. This will ultimately mean an overall decrease in the level of prostitution in the country.
Of 953 responses, 758 favoured her approach which is based on legislation in Sweden.
Of the individual responses, 47 are from people who work or worked in the sex industry . One anonymous respondent wrote:
I chose to escort for money. I enjoy it. I do not feel exploited or dehumanised. I feel liberated, excited, expressive, creative and earning good money. I am one of very few people who actually enjoys their job.
Legislation to tackle human trafficking and better protect its victims will be debated by MSPs. The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill was brought forward by the Scottish Government to strengthen existing criminal law against the
practice and enhance the status of and support for victims.
Moralist campaigners inevitably called for the buying of sex to be criminalised as part of the legislation. Churches and Christian organisations proclaimed that the Bill offers a golden opportunity to make the purchase of sex illegal.
But others such as Amnesty argue that conflating human trafficking and prostitution within one piece of legislation will not do justice to either issue.
Justice secretary Michael Matheson said earlier this year that he would meet campaigners on both sides before the Scottish Government comes to a final position on the matter. But after taking evidence from a range of groups and organisations, the
committee concluded the legislation was not the right vehicle for addressing the issue of criminalising the buying of sex.
Glasgow City Council has long been a hotbed of PC extremists who advocate that jailing men and destroying their families is a price worth paying so that councillors can feel good about their 'equality'.
Councillor James Coleman has called upon Justice Minister Michael Matheson to make a public commitment to target and challenge men's demand for paid-for sexual services. He said:
We support the current Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill but believe it is limited by the fact it does not adequately address the cause of commercial sexual exploitation.
We are also fully supportive of the Scottish Government's 'Equally Safe' strategy, which recognises prostitution and trafficking as forms of commercial sexual exploitation that ultimately harm women.
The city council agreed to call upon the Justice Minister to address the issue of demand, and to introduce comprehensive legislation in Scotland to criminalise the purchase of sex and to decriminalise and support those exploited through
prostitution. The motion, which was seconded by SNP group leader Susan Aitken, was agreed at a meeting of the full council.
Proposals to decriminalise prostitution and pave the way for legal brothels have been put forward at Holyrood.
The plans include allowing more than one prostitute to work from the same premises and giving sex workers more employment rights in the workplace. It is based on New Zealand's arrangement for legal prostitution.
Independent Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart said:
Sex workers have been systematically ignored while laws which expose them to violence and stigma have been preserved or extended.
These proposals take on board not only the experience and concerns of sex workers, but also reflect a growing international consensus that what sex workers most need is safety and labour rights, not the risks which come from criminalisation.
Nadine Stott, co-chairwoman of sex worker rights charity Scot-Pep, said:
The purchase and sale of sex is currently legal, but in general, the law prevents sex workers from being able to work safely, and that must end.
There is no reason why sex work should only be permissible if a single person works alone in their flat, for example. That law leaves sex workers vulnerable to violence and exploitation, as do the current laws on street-based sex work, which
also seriously hamper sex workers' ability to move on to other work.
Dr Marsha Scott, Scottish Women's Aid chief executive, said:
Fundamentally, we would welcome any proposals that make women - and anyone involved in prostitution - safer, healthier, and more likely to enjoy a full range of human rights.
We believe that giving them access to safety, protection, healthcare and support, as well as economic independence are of paramount importance.
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.
Scottish Labour is set to announce a manifesto pledge to prosecute men who buy sex.
Bizarrely the party claims that selling sex can be somehow legal whilst buying it is illegal. Surely the sex workers would be clearly inciting their customers to commit an offence.
Its manifesto, to be unveiled on Wednesday, will state:
Scottish Labour aims to tackle commercial sexual exploitation by challenging demand and by supporting those involved. It has a three-pronged framework: criminalising the buying of sex, decriminalising people involved in prostitution, and
providing long-term support and exiting services for those exploited through prostitution.
ScotPep, the sex workers' rights charity, said during the last Holyrood session that it did not agree with the policy, fearing that it could put women in more danger and challenging the assertion that all sex workers are victims .