Performers to appeal against ban on strip clubs in Edinburgh

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A union representing exotic dancers has said it will take a local authority to court after Edinburgh councilors voted to ban strip clubs in the Scottish capital.

Edinburgh Council’s Regulatory Committee voted to ban the clubs by a majority of five to four.

One performer, who went by the name Alexis, told the committee: “Strip clubs aren’t just full of perverted old men trying to smell young women; many of our customers just want someone to talk to.

Alexis, who has worked as a dancer for 15 years, said she was proud of her job and did not want to find another because being a performer did not correspond to the moral values ​​of the committee.

“(We are) educated women making informed decisions about what’s best for our lives,” she said.

The union representing exotic artists has pledged to take their fight to court in a bid to overturn the decision, and said it would seek judicial review.

Danielle Worden, social worker for United Voices of the World, said: “The union is extremely disappointed that the council has chosen to disregard its legal obligations and relevant evidence by adopting a policy that discriminates against women. .

“Not only does this breach the Equality Act 2010, it is an act of cruelty to take away the livelihoods of hundreds of workers as we enter the worst economic crisis since the 1970s.”

A performer, calling herself Margot, said after the meeting that it was ‘hugely disappointing’ that the council had ‘decided to overlook dancers’ safety concerns and instead based this decision on outdated and moralistic opinions’.

“Strippers are mostly women, who should also have the right to work and live free from violence,” she said.

Tess Hermann, stripper and branch organizer for United Voices of the World – a grassroots union for low paid, migrant and precarious workers – said: ‘We are shocked by Edinburgh City Council’s decision today to ban strip clubs despite hearings about the consequences this would have on dancers.

“For our members in Edinburgh, this means they have to decide whether they will continue to work independently on private parties and without protection, working in a different industry which does not give them the flexibility and earning potential they need or move to another city.

“It was not just an ideological question; these are our means of subsistence.

During the meeting, the city council proposed a plan to limit the number of sex entertainment clubs to four, which is the current number of establishments in the city, or to zero, which would effectively be a ban.

Councilor Cameron Rose said it was proportionate to set the limit at zero.

He told the committee that the Scottish Government’s policy to prevent violence against women and girls gave a national definition which included commercial sexual exploitation, defined as lap and pole dancing, as well as strip -tease.

“It is inconceivable for me to profess my support for this policy and hold it consistent with having any number of venues for sexual entertainment,” he said.

“The clear balance comes down to the legitimate interest of women and society at large on the arguments we heard today from a group of women who will be economically affected in all sorts of ways, and I accept that, who are involved in what has been described as commercial exploitation.

Committee chair Catherine Fullerton had backed the maximum at four, the number of sex entertainment clubs currently operating in Edinburgh.

She told the committee that the regulations would ensure safety and added: ‘The consistent message from performers in this industry was that closing establishments would put them at risk.’

Councilor Susan Rae said: “It’s not for us to tell women what they can and can’t do and where they can and can’t work.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council said the ban would come into effect on April 1 next year.

“It is important to note that places of sexual entertainment can still apply for a license and the committee would consider them to be contrary to the policy agreed today,” the spokesperson said.

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