Scottish Government consults on criminalising purchase of sex

The Scottish Government is considering a change to the law on prostitution to criminalise paying for sex.

Community Safety Minister Ash Denham MSP said prostitution “is a form of commercial sexual exploitation and is, therefore, part of what we consider to be, and respond to as, violence against women”.

It is currently not illegal to buy or sell sex in Scotland. However, activities such as running a brothel, kerb-crawling and public solicitation are criminal offences.

Challenge demand

The Minister launched a consultation on how the law should change, and outlined how other countries deal with the issue.

One of the approaches put forward is to criminalise the purchase of sex, but decriminalise selling it – an approach Denham has previously backed.

The consultation states: “We want to challenge men’s demand for prostitution, work to reduce the harms associated with prostitution and support women to exit.”

It is open until December.

Northern Ireland

A Bill outlawing the purchase of sex came into law in Northern Ireland in 2015.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) made the Province the first part of the UK to bring in such legislation.

It also contains provisions for statutory victim care and child trafficking guardians, aimed at strengthening support services.

Also see:


Bill criminalising purchase of sex passes final stage in NI

Leeds red light district ‘hasn’t worked’, says pioneer

‘It’s not safe, it’s tragic’: former prostitute speaks out

‘Prostitution is violent and coercive and must be stopped’