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MSPs defer lapdancing controls

12 May 2010

A legislative attempt to control lapdancing clubs is to be reworked after fears were expressed that it could threaten theatrical and ballet productions.

Sandra White, an SNP MSP, had tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill to give powers to local authorities to prevent the provision in their areas of "adult entertainment". This was defined as any live performance or display of nudity "provided solely or principally for the purpose of sexually stimulating any member of the audience".

Ms White has campaigned against lapdancing and table dancing as involving violence against women and as contributing to a negative image of women. 

However in a letter to Holyrood's Justice Committee which is considering the bill, the chief executive of Scottish Ballet, Cindy Sughrue argued that the amendment "would rule out presentations of some of the most powerful performance work of the 20th and 21st centuries, including numerous critically and publicly acclaimed productions". She called for an exemption for plays and similar entertainment, and for premises used for artistic productions.

Ms White said her amendment gave local authorities the ability to choose whether to implement controls, but agreed to withdraw it after Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill offered Government support in redrafting it. He said: "While we do support the intention behind the amendment, there are difficulties which will require to be addressed."

Justice Committee convener Bill Aitken said he did not think the issue of theatrical performances had been satisfactorily resolved, and questioned whether the amendment was strictly necessary.

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