Sex workers and local advocates in the City of London have been using this sentiment when debating the highly controversial no-touch bylaw. City Councillors voted unanimously Tuesday in favour of prohibiting sexual-touching between employees and patrons in strip clubs and body-rub parlours.
Organizations such as Safespace London and Anova have been fighting against this prohibition for a while stating that it raises safety concerns for sex workers. Many suggest it is a way of earning a living wage and is more of a consent issue.
With the bylaw going into its last phase in council next week, Phil Squire, City Councillor for Ward 6 believes that the bylaw is not the oppressive issue. “The environment in an adult entertainment parlour is oppressive but it’s oppressive to women from the employers, the people who they work for, in other words forcing them to do things that they may not otherwise like to do.”
The vote was based on facts from both sides of the argument but ultimately, the bylaw stayed in line with the Canadian Criminal Code. “I heard from Anova, I heard their representations, I received all their material and I met with them also. They have a completely valid position but as a lawyer and from a legal point of view, I could not see the city of London putting something in their bylaw that could potentially allow what is criminal behaviour,” Squire says.
This highly debated bylaw was discussed in city council behind locked doors. The spectators in attendance were not able to hear this debate and vote, raising some suspicions.
Epitome of barriers for participating in @CityofLdnOnt City Council .... listening in when locked out during adult entertainment by-laws 45min convo. Also, knowing date of mtgs, figuring out 300pg agenda, how to ask to speak, fear of outing yourself when have to speak publicly. pic.twitter.com/9PfsdX6MnQ— AnnaLise Trudell (@annatrudell) December 6, 2017
While no one is sure why the doors were locked, Squire believes that after the break, the doors were closed and not re-opened due to the assumption that people left during the mid-way break.
Squire reassures that this was just a mistake and that the doors were closed but not locked. The miscommunication is against the municipal law as all city council meetings must have an open-door policy to the public and media.
Council will be discussing this matter at their next meeting.