A UNION representing Edinburgh’s strippers has officially instructed its lawyers to commence proceedings for a judicial review challenging a ban on strip clubs in the capital.

After successfully fundraising over £20,000 in just three weeks to fund their legal costs, United Sex Workers (USW) seek to overturn the City of Edinburgh Council’s nil-cap policy, which was voted through in March and would from April next year limit the number of strip clubs in the city to zero, forcing four existing establishments to close.

The union’s motion – which a USW spokesperson confirmed was enrolled in court on July 22 and opposed by the local authority - currently concerns USW’s right to participate in the judicial review. According to the spokesperson: “Denying UVW’s participation means the review could go ahead without the voices of workers being heard.”

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Speaking to The National, a USW spokesperson said: “As the majority of strippers are women, we believe a nil-cap policy constitutes indirect gender discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, and that it interferes with their Article 8 right to respect for private and family life under the European Convention of Human Rights.”

According to the union, more than 100 Edinburgh workers – including new mothers without full-time childcare, students funding their way through university, and dancers with chronic physical and mental health conditions – are dependent on the clubs, and that forcing them into unemployment during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis “is nothing short of reckless endangerment.”

The spokesperson added: “There is no evidence to suggest that the presence of strip clubs either correlates with or causes gendered violence. In cities where nil-caps have already been implemented, there has been no reduction to in gendered violence - in fact, the risk of violence sex workers face has only increased.”

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“If the council are truly concerned with women’s safety, they should be enshrining workers’ right in their SEV licensing and ensuring workers have legal workplaces where they can unionise and collective bargain to improve their working conditions, not creating conditions that are ripe for exploitation."

Noting this week’s victory by campaigners to overturn a nil-cap policy in Bristol, the USW spokesperson added: “I think our success in Bristol also shows that a strip club ban does not have a public mandate - 86% of the over 6000 responses received in Bristol disagreed or strongly disagreed with a nil cap policy.

"Edinburgh Council’s poorly released public consultation only received 89 responses for a population of over half a million, and the council have yet to disclose which groups they even consulted in 2021 regarding this policy - all we know is that it did not include any of the workers.”

Edinburgh Green councillor Susan Rae commented: “I very much support the USW, who have been impressive in organising against the nil-cap and wish them well in their fight to save jobs, and possibly lives.”

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson told The National: “We are aware of a potential legal challenge and are taking advice on our next steps.”