LAP dancing clubs have denied they are a hotbed of exploitation and crime, following moves to allow councils to ban adult entertainment venues.
As part of a crackdown on prostitution and people trafficking Nationalist MSP Sandra White has proposed the creation of a strict new adult entertainment licence which could lead to councils banning lap dancing altogether.
But in a submission to a Scottish Government consultation, the Association of Adult Entertainment Venues (AAEV), which represents 17 venues, has rejected claims lap dancing clubs are a front for prostitution and human trafficking.
The AAEV, which counts Glasgow’s Diamond Dolls venue and Hooters in Edinburgh among its members, says no arrests, charges or prosecutions have been made in relation to such offences and says ministers misunderstand the industry.
Steve McDonald, a strip club owner and author of the AAEV submission said: “The association and all its members refute in the strongest manner any links to organised crime such as prostitution and human trafficking.”
“The many layers of control currently provided by the clubs would easily detect such forms of criminality if it was ever apparent on a club’s premises.
“The association queries why this consultation is taking place as there does not appear to be an issue which requires to be addressed.”
White, who has previously launched a failed bid to control lap dancing clubs, has said they are “exploitative and very demeaning to women.”
She is now understood to have the government’s backing for a bill which would introduce a tough new licensing system.
Charities set up to combat violence against women have backed the bid to control the venues.
A spokesman for Zero Tolerance told the consultation: “Going to watch some ‘sexualentertainment’ is not the same as going for a coffee, a meal or a sunbed session.
“It is not aimed at all members of our society. Licensing it separately reflects the harm it causes.”
Callum Hendry from White Ribbon Scotland said: “Sexual entertainment venues should not exist in a Scotland free of violence against women and regulation on behalf of the state goes some way to condoning their existence.”
About 350 lap dancers are estimated to work in clubs across Scotland, and the AAEV has called for existing venues to be protected from closure to save jobs.
A petition setup by dancers says the government should “cease the attacks on out industry.”
Billie Stewart, 26, who works as a lap dancer in Edinburgh, said: “We are not vulnerable. We are not in the sex trade.
“People seem to have the wrong idea.”