The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today congratulated Parramatta City Council for voting to ban all brothels and sex-related services as an acceptable land use and urged all other Australian councils to follow their lead.

ACL’s spokesperson on women’s issues, Michelle Pearse, said Parramatta City Council had taken a clear stand in favour of the best interests of the local community by becoming the first council in NSW to defy the NSW Government’s planning requirements which impose brothels on local communities despite compelling social concerns.

“It is wrong for State Governments in places such as NSW, Queensland and Victoria to force councils to assess brothels solely in terms of planning requirements and to make them ignore the wider social effects of approving brothels and the deplorable impact on the local character of the neighbourhood.

“Legalising brothels has been a clear failure everywhere it has occurred and Government policies which force brothels on unwilling communities are yet another example of this failure. Research has shown that legalising brothels only increases harm to women and children by causing a massive expansion of the industry – including tripling the number of illegal brothels,” Ms Pearse said.

“For example, after ten years of licensed brothels in Queensland under the Prostitution Act 1999, ‘90% of prostitution remains unregulated’ according to a report Human Trafficking Working Group of the University of Queensland.

“At the same time, legalising brothels has led to State endorsement of brothels being inflicted on communities despite their concerns.”

Ms Pearse said that according to a Law and Sex Worker Health Team (LASH) survey of urban councils in Sydney, the demand for brothels is growing faster than the number of approvals. “Wherever brothels are decriminalised, the demand for paid sex will continue to grow. Governments need to recognise the harm this is having on society and to the women involved and take a tougher stance against the purchase of sex.”

Ms Pearse said that, instead of pursuing a failed policy initiative, State Governments should be considering the Swedish model of prostitution control which treats prostitution as a form of abuse against women and prosecutes the purchaser of sex.

“Just recently the Tasmanian Children’s Commissioner referred to the need to consider such moves in his report dealing with the case of a 12-year-old girl who had been prostituted to more than 100 men.

“Governments need to have a complete rethink on this issue and Parramatta City Council has had good reason to defy such policies. We urge all other councils who genuinely value ratepayers’ concerns to follow Parramatta’s lead.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979