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Free Church: Decriminalising prostitution in Scotland "a regressive step for society"

A consultation by Jean Urquhart MSP on her proposed law reforms on prostitution closes today (Tuesday 8 December).

The Free Kirk said it shared Ms Urquhart's compassionate concern to protect vulnerable sex workers from abuse but said it felt her suggested remedy of decriminalising the commercial sex trade would only "empower pimps and brothel owners and perpetuate the cycle of violence, coercion and subjugation".

Instead, the denomination suggested greater Scottish Government investment in programmes like SACRO's 'Another Way', which seeks to change lifestyles and long-term behaviour.

Unlike Jean Urquhart, the Free Church believes that "any moral framework that would perpetuate the miseries of the sex trade regressive and harmful".

Moderator Revd David Robertson said: "For the State to recognise prostitution just because it is inevitable is as illogical as the State recognising violence, racism or theft because they are 'inevitable'.

"Jean Urquhart's proposal gives into the corporate, capitalist neo-liberal ideology which thinks that everything, including women's and men's bodies, is up for sale.

"For the Scottish Parliament to follow such a path would be a regressive step for the whole of Scottish society, but especially for the weak, vulnerable and powerless."

The Free Church submission to her consultation noted that "major reports from the European Parliament favour banning the purchase of sexual services as an effective means of lowering trafficking levels".

It also urged the Scottish Government "to eschew the New Zealand model, which has heavily influenced Jean Urquhart, and follow the Northern Ireland model, which bans the purchase of sexual services".

On her website, Ms Urquhart said: "I know these proposals will be controversial. Some think sex work is simply immoral, or cannot be made safer, or that punishing clients can be done without harming sex workers.

"Others claim that sex workers are somehow themselves responsible for the problems of a sexist society.

"I hope everyone will take this opportunity to take a look at my proposals, make up their own mind and have their say."

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