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Good riddance to bad brothel bylaw

15 March 2006

Good riddance to bad brothel bylaw

The decision of the High Court to quash an Auckland City Council bylaw severely restricting the legal location of brothels is being welcomed by Green Party Social Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford.

Ms Bradford was one of the main proponents of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003. At the time, she argued that law reform would improve the safety and well-being of sex workers by supporting the development of self-managed prostitution businesses.

"Small owner-operated brothels reduce the risk of sex workers being ripped-off and coerced into unsafe sex practices by exploitative brothel owners," Ms Bradford says.

"Unfortunately, the Auckland City Council bylaw pertaining to brothel location in effect since December 2003 has severely impacted on the ability of Auckland prostitutes to access the positive effects of the law change, as it has made it virtually impossible for them to run small owner-operated brothels in Auckland."

A brothel owner took legal action against the Auckland City Council, arguing that the bylaw was unlawful, a contention which has now been upheld by the High Court.

"I am very pleased that the High Court has seen fit to quash this harmful bylaw. As I said in my submission to the Auckland City Council when the bylaw was enacted, while the Prostitution Reform Act did grant local authorities the power to regulate the locations of brothels, it contained specific provisions to ensure that small owner-operated brothels were subject to fewer restrictions than larger brothels," Ms Bradford says.

"It was never intended that a city council would be able to make it virtually impossible to run a small owner-operated brothel, and the Auckland City Council bylaw was in clear contravention of the intention of the Act.

"I hope the council will take this opportunity to revisit their bylaws and create some sensible rules that allow the safe operation of small private brothels.

"Furthermore, a number of other Territorial Local Authorities have similarly restrictive bylaws. I suggest that such authorities revisit their bylaws in light of the High Court decision, rather than waste ratepayers' money fighting inevitably futile legal battles," Ms Bradford says.


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