London rally to call for stricter lap-dancing law

The Government will come under pressure to act on the issue of lap-dancing clubs tomorrow as campaigners gather at Westminster to call for stricter rules.

Speakers at a meeting to be chaired by Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee are expected to warn of the dangers associated with lap-dancing clubs, particularly for women.

They will call for a change in the law so that lap-dancing clubs are forced to apply for a Sex Encounter Establishments Licence, the same kind that is required by sex shops.

A change in licensing legislation four years ago means that lap-dancing clubs now just need a Premises Licence to open – placing them on equal footing with a pub or a café.

Since this loophole was created the number of lap-dancing clubs operating in the UK has doubled, and residents have complained that their opportunities to object have been severely limited.

Object and the Fawcett Society, the two groups behind tomorrow’s meeting, say that there are proven links between the operation of lap-dancing clubs and increases in local crime against women.

The lap-dancing industry has responded to the campaign for tighter rules by claiming that the harm associated with the clubs is exaggerated.

Kate Nicholls, secretary of the Lap Dancing Association, argues: “Morality should have no place in objective law-making.

“There are no laws broken in these clubs. If you don’t like it, don’t go in one.”

But the Home Secretary recently announced that the Government was considering a change in the law, although it is not known when this will take place.

Writing on The Guardian’s Comment Is Free webpage, Object’s Sandrine Levêque said that the meeting was intended to “spell out the need to translate these promising announcements into action.”

She continued: “The time to act is now: closing the loophole will send out a powerful message that buying a lap dance has a far greater social impact than buying a cappuccino.”