Calls by police to ban items of a sexual nature in licensed saunas in Edinburgh have been dropped after Scottish charities called them “homophobic”.
Scotland Police had written to the city council, arguing that any licences should only be approved if they ban items of a sexual nature on the premises.
Both THT Scotland and SCOT-PEP believed that such a ban would include condoms, which could have then increased the rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
But the condition was later dropped before the council committee met to decide upon the renewal of all 13 sauna licences in the city.
Superintendent Matt Richards said that Police Scotland had never advocated the removal of condoms from any licensed premises.
He said: “At no point do the recommendations make reference to the banning of condoms. Police Scotland absolutely supports proper measures to protect sexual health.
“The issue of prostitution is a complex one and we work with the City of Edinburgh Council and local health services to ensure the safety of those involved in the sex trade.”
Earlier in March, police raids had resulted in six premises having their licences suspended.
Before the plans were pulled, SCOT-PEP said that Police Scotland are now targeting sex workers and gay men with “homophobic and misogynist tactics” by using condoms as evidence that sex had taken place.
In a statement, the charity set up to protect sex workers’ rights had said consequences of the plans could have been as severe as the HIV epidemic of the 1980s.
They said: “This can now only be seen as a morality-driven, outright attack on behaviour and communities that the police see as undesirables.
“Putting the health of sex workers and gay men at risk is not an acceptable or defensible policy.”
A recent report by the World Health Organisation recommended to governments that practice of using condoms as evidence should be stopped.
It read: “Condoms should never be considered to be evidence of sex work, either in official laws or through unofficial law-enforcement practices, and condoms should never be confiscated from sex workers.”
Robert McKay, national director of Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said that taking condoms away would not stop people having sex, saying, “it will only result in unprotected sex and increased rates of HIV and STDs”.
He added: “Our point of view is to make sure that people are kept safe. Condoms have proved very successful in preventing STDs and HIV transmissions.”