Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Sydney council allows prostitutes to work legally from home

SYDNEY — A Sydney council has stirred controversy by voting to legalise brothels in residential areas provided only one prostitute operates from the premises.

Inner city Marrickville Council said the move was designed to tighten control over the "invisible" sex industry, where prostitutes operate from their own homes.

"The reality is that there are many people who operate such brothels secretly," Marrickville mayor Barry Cotter said.

Brothels can currently operate legally in New South Wales state but operators must have a development application approved by council.

Under the new regulation, brothels can operate in Marrickville without formal approval provided only one prostitute uses the premises and the services are not advertised.

The proposal was passed by eight votes to four late Tuesday at a council meeting attended by more than 300 opponents, concerned that the home brothels would lower real estate prices and attract "the wrong type of people".

Marrickville councillor Morris Hanna opposed the proposal, saying residents would be powerless to stop their neighbours operating brothels.

"In my belief, it would run the area down, it's a family area with a good name, but you bring this type of business in, it brings the wrong type of people with it," he said.

Robbie Swan, a spokesman for the sex industry lobby group the Eros Foundation, welcomed the move.

"The sex industry should be treated no differently than other small businesses," he said.

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Created: April 13, 2003
Last modified: April 13, 2003
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