08.06.2022 / Press releases /

Sex workers union launches appeal to fund legal fight against strip club bans

  • USW needs to raise an initial £20,000 to help fund a judicial review against Edinburgh City Council. We will argue these so-called ‘nil-caps’ are unlawful, as they discriminate against women, who make up the vast majority of strippers.
  • If the judicial review is successful, councils all over Britain who are currently considering setting a nil-cap, would have to admit that this is unlawful, bringing an end to the practice.
  • USW is in touch with a Scottish legal firm, and is preparing to challenge the strip club ban’s compatibility with the Equality Act 2010.

Link to the appeal:

USW is trying to raise £20,000 to fund a judicial review of Edinburgh City Council’s strip club ban. A successful judicial review could mean an end to strip club bans across England, Scotland & Wales and give strippers a chance to collectively organise without worrying about their workplaces being shut down.

At the end of March 2022, Edinburgh City Council voted to impose a ‘nil cap’ on licences for sexual entertainment venues (SEVs). This decision will effectively shut down all strip clubs in the city by April 2023 and forbid any new ones from opening.

In practice, this means that strippers (alongside bar and security staff) will lose their jobs, with no alternative venues available for them to find work. Stripping is already a precarious job, and due to the stigmatised nature of the work, it can be hard for dancers to find other forms of employment. 

Strip club bans violate workers’ rights at a time of severe economic crisis. They form part of a wider attempt by the state to oppress precarious workers and dictate what women and other minorities can do with their bodies.

There is huge potential for this campaign to move forward sex workers’ rights, and to demonstrate that strippers—and other sex workers—are workers, who deserve the right to work safety.

Annie F, a stripper in Edinburgh impacted by the ban and USW member, said:

“I am a single mother to a three-year-old. I have no family to help with childcare, and my daughter is only entitled to free childcare for six hours a day, four days a week. This prevents me from working in most jobs. If I cannot work as a stripper, I will be unable to pay my bills, and we will be pushed into poverty.”

Audrey, an organiser for USW, said:

“Nil-cap policies succeed at nothing other than putting sex workers’ lives at risk. By removing workers’ livelihoods during an unprecedented cost of living crisis, local councils are forcing us to make the unenviable choice between poverty or more dangerous, underground sex work. Strip club workers deserve safety, to access the same rights & protections as any other worker – and the success of this challenge could create a legal precedent for that. It’s why it is so vital we raise this money, it’s not to just save over a hundred worker’s jobs, but to ensure thousands of workers’ rights.”

Danielle Worden, legal caseworker for United Voices of the World, said:

“The success of this legal challenge is not only essential to save the jobs of hundreds of workers in Edinburgh, but also to send a clear message to other councils that ‘nil-caps’ are unlawful. Otherwise, the existence of the stripping industry is at stake, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of workers. This challenge is not just about sex workers rights – it’s also about bodily autonomy and fighting the state’s broader aim to oppress precarious workers to force them into the minimum wage jobs which the capitalist system depends on.”

For further information please contact the UVW communications team.


Jim: 07749 765264

Cristina: 07548 759340

Isabel: 07706987443

Notes for editors:

UVW is an anti-racist, member-led, direct action, campaigning trade union and we exist to support and empower the most vulnerable groups of precarious, low-paid and predominantly Black, brown and migrant workers in the UK. We fight the bosses through direct action on the streets and through the courts and demand that all members receive at least the London Living Wage, full pay, sick pay, dignity, equality and respect.

USW is a member-led branch of UVW, representing workers in the sex industry. 


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