Church favours banning the purchase of sexual services
The Press and Journal 9 Dec 2015
An attempt by a Highland MSP to decriminalise prostitution has been branded as “a regressive step for society” by the Free Church of Scotland.
The Free Kirk said it shared Jean Urquhart’s compassionate concern to protect vulnerable sex workers from abuse.However, it felt that her suggested remedy of decriminalising the commercial sex trade would only “empower pimps and brothel owners”, thus undermining the Scottish Government’s efforts to eliminate trafficking.
The backlash came as a consultation launched by the independent Highland member on her proposed law reform closed earlier this week.Instead, the denomination suggested greater government investment in programmes like Sacro’s Another Way, which attempts to change lifestyles and long-term behaviour.
Moderator Rev 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 noted that reports from the European Parliament “favour banning the purchase of sexual services as an effective means of lowering trafficking levels”.It urged the Scottish Government to follow the Northern Ireland model, which bans the purchase of sexual services.
Mrs Urquhart revealed just a few years ago that she had worked as a waitress for Hugh Hefner’s Playboy bunnies in the 1960s.Mrs Urquhart, who resigned from the SNP to become an independent, said her stint at the club only lasted four weeks.Last night Mrs Urquhart could not be contacted for comment.
And this letter in todays P an J in response:
SIR, – I refer to your story (December 9) headed “Free Kirk: Making buying sex legal is a ‘step back’”.
The Free Church of Scotland is publicly vociferous over many issues, which is much to be welcomed, and other Christian denominations might well take a leaf from its book.
Sometimes, the Free Church is right and, like the rest of us, sometimes it is wrong, but it is absolutely right to confront and oppose a proposal from Highland MSP Jean Urquhart to the Scottish Parliament that prostitution be decriminalised.
Apparently, Ms Urquhart is of the opinion that decriminalising prostitution would protect vulnerable women from abuse. While the Free Church shares her compassionate concerns, the points made by Moderator Rev David Robertson leave her position in tatters.
So will the Scottish Parliament go with Ms Urquhart’s proposal? Well, they’ve passed crazy enough legislation in the past, so anything could happen, but going with this one would be a regressive step for society.
Keith Fernie, Drakies Avenue, Inverness.