A deal with hookers

Gay hustlers can soon go legit – in Edmonton, at least.

While that city’s plan to licence independent sex-trade workers is aimed at allowing women to flee crooked escort agencies, Deputy Mayor Jim Taylor says male escorts can go west, too.

“It’s certainly not gender specific,” says Taylor.

“It would be open to escorts whether they were male or female. As

it happens right now, the vast majority of licensed escorts are female.”

The city’s current by-law regulating both agencies and escorts came

into effect more than a year ago.

Under that ordinance, agencies must be licensed and are charged

$3,600 each year, while individual sex workers pay $50.

The hitch, however, is that prostitutes must toil for an agency in order to get a civic stamp of approval.

However, under a number of proposed amendments, sex workers will soon be allowed to do it for themselves.

“The amendment is to allow escorts, in effect, to have their own

agency of one,” says Taylor, whose ward contains most of the city’s 10 licensed services.

“There’s testimony that some agencies are seriously taking advantage of the escorts that work for them. There’s been allegations that escort agencies – some – are really organized.

“By allowing the escorts to have their own agency, you break the

hold these agencies have on them.”

The trade-off, Taylor says, is that prostitutes can legitimately run their own businesses and arrange deals from home.

Among other things, the city will conduct police checks on licensed sex workers and hold mandatory classes on health concerns and tax requirements.

Though controversial, Taylor says the amendments are well supported and certain to be implemented this year.

Still, four Edmonton agencies were charged with living off the avails last year; licences alone don’t make anyone immune from criminal charges.

While prostitution itself is technically legal, Edmonton hookers will still have to negotiate tricky federal laws governing the world’s oldest profession.

Soliciting in a public place is illegal; negotiating a cash for sex swap on Ma Bell is considered private. As for whether parked cars are a private place: You may have to work that out with a judge.

Sex workers can’t entertain at their own digs – that’s still a bawdy

house infraction under the Criminal Code. Meetings must take place at the john’s home, or at a hotel.

Meanwhile, the cost of legitimacy to the Edmonton sex worker is still unknown.

The new licensing costs have yet to be finalized.

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