Scottish Policy Maker Consults Sex Workers on Law Proposal

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Europe Regional Correspondent

On September 8, 2015, independent member of the Scottish Parliament for the Highlands and Islands proposed a new law entitled Prostitution Law Reform (Scotland) Bill, developed with NSWP member SCOT-PEP. SCOT-PEP and the NSWP welcome the launch of the proposed bill and consultation process.

MSP Jean Urquhart’s website states the new bill seeks to reform and repeal existing laws, which criminalise activities associated with sex work, and introduce more robust safeguards against coercion and exploitation. According to the SCOT-PEP press release, the four key elements of the proposed legislation are as follow:

  1. Permit small groups of sex workers (up to four) to work together from the same premises, and for larger premises to be licensed. Currently, even two sex workers who work together for safety are criminalised for brothel-keeping – forcing sex workers to work alone increases their vulnerability to violence.
  2. Scrap laws against soliciting and kerb-crawling. Evidence shows both measures reduce the amount of time sex workers have to assess their safety and agree services, which again increases their vulnerability to violence.
  3. Extend protection against coercion, which only applies to female sex workers under current legislation, and make those provisions more robust – in line with what sex workers say they need.
  4. Permit sex workers to have joint finances with their families or flatmates. Currently the partners and family of sex workers are criminalised, which is isolating and stigmatising, and assumes coercion rather than tackling coercion directly.

MSP Jean Urquhart has launched a public consultation to help develop and improve the bill. The NSWP encourages members to respond. To download the consultation, click here. The consultation will close on December 1, 2015.