Public backs criminalising purchase of sex, says MSP

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A PROPOSAL to criminalise the purchase of sex has been overwhelmingly backed, 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 per cent favour her ban.

However, many who identify themselves as sex workers are said to reject the idea that they are being exploited.

Ms Grant said: “The level of responses received to this consultation and the detail supplied shows that there is a need for legislation to protect those working in the sex industry.

“It is clear that prostitution causes lasting damage to individuals both in physical and mental health terms, regardless of their sex.

“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 favour her approach which is based on legislation in Sweden.

A summary of the responses to the consultation contained views from charities, churches, prostitutes and people who use escorts. Counsellors, police officers, GPs and academics also contributed.

The most common reason provided in support is that the legislation would reduce the incidence of prostitution and protect women against violence.

Among those opposed, there is a view that it could make prostitutes more vulnerable rather than safeguarding them.