Edinburgh police demand condom ban in saunas

Gay saunas have hit out at the proposed condom ban proclaiming it 'unfair' while HIV experts warn it will stop safer sex and be a 'public health own goal'

Edinburgh police demand condom ban in saunas
23 October 2013

Edinburgh gay saunas are facing the possibility of having to remove condoms after police complaints.

Police Scotland have written to the city council arguing if it grants licenses for saunas it should be on condition that no items of a sexual nature are allowed on the premises.

The authorities are focusing on five saunas in particular in an effort to crack down on the sex trade.

A spokesman for gay sauna Steamworks described the proposal as ‘unfair’.

Speaking to Gay Star News, he said: ‘I don’t understand why they want to take away condoms.

‘It seems to not really be fair because even pubs have condoms machines.

‘I don’t know what will stop [sex in saunas]. People might bring them in now, but it won’t stop it.’

The Steamworks sauna spokesman added there will be a committee meeting later today to decide on the proposal. He said if they did ban condoms, they would be go along with it.

Other gay saunas we contacted were refusing to speak to journalists. It is a possibility police or the council informed them to not speak to the media, or they made a joint discussion to not discuss the proposal in public.

Sexual health charities are concerned in by trying to curb prostitution, it will cause an HIV epidemic.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of National AIDS Trust, told GSN: ‘Making condoms a reason to lose a sauna license will not stop sex, it will stop safer sex – and put at risk often very vulnerable people.

‘Edinburgh led the way in the early years of HIV in harm reduction – pioneering clean needle programs in the UK for people who use drugs and halting the spread of HIV in that community.

‘We urge the city now to remember that proud heritage and not penalize condom use. It would be the worst sort of public health own goal.’

Robert McKay, National Director for Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, added: ‘Taking away condoms doesn’t stop people from having sex; it does however result in unprotected sex and increased rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

‘It is vital that people can protect themselves wherever they have sex.’

A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘Police Scotland recently provided reports to the Council Regulatory Committee in respect of a number of public entertainment license renewals.

‘In cases where there was evidence of criminality or premises operating out-with the conditions of their license, objections were made to those licenses being renewed.

‘Police Scotland will continue to work with partners to inspect and report on licensed premises operating within Edinburgh in order to keep people safe.

‘Whenever criminal activity, or licensing contraventions are detected within these venues, officers will respond appropriately and report all offences to the relevant authority.’

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