Lap dancing clubs could be forced to close after council vote

Councillors will decide if clubs should be licensed as sexual entertainment venues with the potential to recommend zero licences.

Lap dancing clubs could be forced to close after council vote STV News

Lap dancing clubs in Glasgow could be forced to close following a council vote this week.

Councillors will vote on whether clubs in the city should be licensed as sexual entertainment venues (SEV) – with the potential to recommend zero licences available, essentially shutting the clubs.

Dancers have unionised to object to proposals which have the potential to put them out of jobs.

A change to legislation in 2019 gave local authorities the power to licence lap dancing clubs – and set the number of licences at zero, which some lobby groups are urging for claiming it fuels sexual inequalities and exploitation.

Glasgow City Council launched a consultation in May 2019 but a vote will go ahead on Wednesday.

Information given by Police Scotland said the three SEVs in Glasgow present no problems to the force in terms of crimes or incidents and a licensing regime would help enforce the same standards across all clubs.

Dancers who gave evidence to a committee told how they felt safe at work and had flexibility to study, raise a family or carry out caring responsibilities.

Along with GMB Scotland reps they supported licensing the clubs.

The women reported not knowing anyone working as a dancer who had been sexually assaulted in Glasgow clubs or having met any women who had been trafficked.

One married dancer, who is also a mum, said: “We, as dancers, do not feel unsafe, exploited or have experienced violence or sexual abuse.

“We welcome SEVs over any possible club closures but if all or any parties concerned about dancers’ welfare had ever come to any of the adult entertainment venues and engaged in conversation with any dancer there would have been no need for any consultations or SEVs.

“Adult entertainment venues in Glasgow have been running to the highest standards for many years and the introduction of SEVs won’t change that.

“Many dancers had to take a lot of time away from family and other work obligations in 2019 to prove to the public that we are safe and not exploited in the career that we as adults have chosen to do.

“I can honestly say I do not know of any other industry that have had to fight so hard to prove to members of the public and Glasgow City Council that we are safe and that our chosen career is not violence against women.

“It will be interesting to see if Magic Mike or any of the male dance groups that visit Glasgow next will have to spend months in the streets of the city proving to council members and the public that their career isn’t violence against men.”

Papers going before committee on Wednesday show multiple groups gave evidence, including feminist organisations, Police Scotland, club owners, an academic, and dancers.

A total of 279 responses were received to the consultation, one of the highest received to a licensing consultation.

At a first evidence session in January last year, representatives from Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis and other lobby groups said lap dancing is a form of violence against women because it allows them to work for the sexual gratification of men.

The paper reads: “In addition, the representatives stated that SEVs promoted commercial sexual exploitation and contributed towards the inequalities that women currently face in life.

“Submissions were made from the experiences of the organisations, that the women who become involved in the SEV industry are ‘overwhelmingly impoverished, ‘vulnerable’ and have often had ‘previous child sexual abuse experiences’.”

The groups asked that the number of licences in Glasgow is set to zero to prevent clubs from operating.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “We received submissions and evidence from a wide range of interested parties during our consultation on the potential for licensing sexual entertainment venues in Glasgow.

“A report has been compiled on the basis of all information that was gathered and that report will be considered in detail by members of the Licensing Committee on Wednesday, March 24.”

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