Coventry City Council is consulting on it’s draft Sex Entertainment Venue policy (covering things like lap dancing clubs)
Our full response is available here
We welcome the decision of the council to introduce a policy covering Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEVs). We believe that SEVs have potentially serious implications for gender equality and women’s human rights in Coventry. Under the 2010 Equality Act the council has a positive duty to promote gender equality.
This duty is particularly relevant in relation to the licensing of sex establishments because of the gendered nature of sex establishments like lap dancing clubs, and because of the negative impact that lap dancing clubs have on efforts to promote equality between women and men:
- SEVs have a negative impact on women’s safety in the local vicinity
- SEVs have a negative impact on women’s safety in wider society
- SEVs are a part of the sex industry and as such are linked with wider systems of prostitution
- SEVs normalise the sexual objectification of women in contradiction to efforts to promote equality between women and men
- SEVs promote ‘sex-object’ culture – the mainstreaming of the sex and porn industries
In light of the above we are concerned by the statement in the draft policy that the Council does not take a ‘moral stance’ with regard to this policy and that SEVs are a ‘legitimate part of the retail and leisure industries’. Sexual Entertainment Venues may be lawful, but they are strongly linked with gender inequality and an abuse of women’s human rights, both of which the Council has a legal obligation to counter. The fact that the law allows councils to introduce a ‘nil’ policy for SEVs marks a strong recognition that they are not simply another part of the retail and leisure industry.
In our response to the Council we strongly recommend that it:
- Explicitly include ‘the promotion of gender equality’ as a specific objective for Sex Entertainment licensing in your licensing policy
- Introduce a ‘nil’ policy for Sexual Entertainment Venues, as permitted under Schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (LGMPA)1982 and amended by Section 27 of the Policing and Crime Act (PCA) 2009.
- Apply a comprehensive set of standard conditions to any licenses that are granted in order to help protect women in this community.
- Monitor the impact of the ‘frequency exemption’ which was included within the SEV licensing regime
- Require members of licensing subcommittees who wish to sit in hearings of relevance to gender (i.e. SEVs; sex establishments and so on) to have completed up to date basic training in gender equality and equality legislation
- Maintain a register of interested parties in reference to SEVs, sex establishments and so on, who will be informed by the Licensing Committee when applications are received of potential relevance for gender equality.
We owe a huge thanks to OBJECT for their toolkit which was a great help in drafting our response. If you can please submit your own response before the closing date of 4 September