MSP in bid to close Edinburgh’s ‘sex saunas’

An MSP is calling for Edinburgh to shut down its controversial sex sauna trade.

Sandra White wants councillors to stop giving licenses to the parlours, which many argue are actually places where men buy sex.

Edinburgh has issued permits for the saunas since 1982, turning a blind eye to what goes on inside.


It is illegal in Scotland to solicit or loiter to buy or sell sex. Running a brothel is also outlawed.

Mrs White said the saunas, 11 of which are in front of the licensing board today, operate as a place to have sex.

She said: “If you go on websites you can see what they offer, with comments from punters who have used them. It’s prostitution by any other name.”

Concert halls

The saunas operate under entertainment licenses, putting them in the same category as concert halls. Managers have to apply for license renewal every three years.

Officials have previously claimed to have been unaware of the sexual activity in these saunas.

But critics are arguing that the Police should stop ignoring the truth.


Mrs White said the saunas “operate above the law as the authorities turn a blind eye.”

Those in support of the saunas claim they were set up to give prostitutes a safe place to work, a reason supported by MSP Margo MacDonald who said it is a “foolish notion” to suggest we can outlaw prostitution.

She said of the saunas, “I am aware that they have given the capital a better system to manage prostitution than similar cities have.”


Back in August, council leader Donald Anderson said the saunas had to operate according to the purposes stated in their licenses.

And licensing convenor Phil Attridge said he had never been given any proof that the sexual activity was happening in them.