Liberty at a price

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The addictive, progressive and corrupting effects of pornography are well known, yet there are still some so wedded to the creed of sexual liberation that they bury their heads in the sand refusing to acknowledge the harms caused.

Internet giants such as Google can help (Leader, 1 June), but the crucial factor is ultimately 
cultural attitude. In a society where divorcing sexual pleasure from exclusive committed 
reciprocal relationships is regarded as a valid choice, pornography will always seem acceptable to many.

Pornography’s close cousin, prostitution, also causes huge harm to participants and wider society. It is heartening that the overwhelming majority of responses to the recent Holyrood consultation on Rhoda Grant’s proposal to criminalise the 
purchase of sex favoured this measure as a means of reducing the incidence of, and, therefore, the damage caused by, prostitution (your report, 31 May).

The campaign to normalise, destigmatise and fully legalise prostitution poses a huge danger to society. The GMB Union’s Sex Workers Section is a sign of the willingness of some to co-operate with this agenda. 

If we treat prostitution “like any other job”, will people be refused benefits because they turn down a job in a “sauna”? Should there be a sex work stand at the school careers fayre? Should employers be free to add sexual duties to any job description? Should big businesses be free to promote sexual services through mainstream loyalty schemes?

Lacking a sexual ethic that goes much beyond “consent”, our society struggles to articulate what’s fundamentally wrong with prostitution, but it is clearly harmful and everyone actually knows full well that it is not “just like any other job”.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant and I will be debating this issue 
with two sex workers’ representatives tonight at 7:30pm at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, 
Edinburgh. The event is free and unticketed.

Richard Lucas


Colinton, Edinburgh