Prostitution ban derailed by MSPs

Prostitution will remain legal in Scotland after MSPs ignored impassioned pleas to ban it.

Labour MSP Trish Godman implored Holyrood members to send a signal that buying sex is “not harmless or acceptable”.

“I would argue that we owe it to all women who are victimised by prostitution to do what we can now”, she said.

But members of the Justice Committee rejected her proposals, deciding not to take the plans forward to the next stage of debate for the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill.


Groups including the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland, prostitutes’ support agency SCOT-PEP and Independent MSP Margo MacDonald all came out against the proposals.

They claimed that banning prostitution would push it further underground.

Trish Godman’s amendment would have made it an offence to engage in, advertise or facilitate paid-for sexual activity, whether it was on the streets or indoors.

She said: “As I speak, men are buying sex from prostitutes, men are raping women who are trafficked, they have no fear, they will never get caught because it is not an offence.


“We need to send a strong message that buying sex is not harmless or acceptable, that it should be regarded in Scotland as an abuse and an exploitation which will not be tolerated.”

But Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing said: “The Government is concerned about making substantial changes to the law in this difficult, complex and sensitive area without proper consideration and consultation, with all the issues involved.”

In December Glasgow City Council launched a hard hitting poster campaign aimed at stamping out prostitution which also had the backing of MSP Trish Godman.

The posters showed actors playing ordinary men in everyday situations, such as at work or a football match, reflecting on the consequences of using prostitutes.


One portrayed a dad with his son on his shoulders musing that “Men can go to a prostitute then still go home to their wife and family.”

Councillor James Coleman, then Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council said at the time: “Prostitution is an appalling form of human exploitation. It blights the lives of those involved, their families and the communities where this awful trade takes place.

“Tackling demand is the key to this issue. It is demand which fuels the vicious cycle of sexual exploitation that supplies vulnerable people in to the sex industry.”