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The Advertising of Prostitution (Prohibition) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord McColl of Dulwich (Conservative). The Bill received its first reading in the House of Lords on 2 June 2015, and is scheduled to be read a second time on 23 October 2015. On the purpose of his Bill, Lord McColl has stated that:

The fact is it is illegal in this country to organise prostitution yet perfectly legal to advertise it and this makes no sense. By simply leaving things as they are we are only encouraging a consumerist approach to sex in society where people are mere commodities. It is a grim reality, but true nevertheless that many adverts for sexual services in newspapers and online are a front for exploitation and coercion. […] We should be seeking to defend and help such people and introducing an advertising ban would be one way of doing so. My Bill seeks to address this issue by banning the advertising of sexual services both in print media and online.

The Bill would make it an offence to publish, or distribute, advertisement of a brothel or the services of a prostitute (clause 1). As to what would constitute such an advertisement, the Bill proposes that “any advertisement which a reasonable person would consider to be an advertisement relating to prostitution shall be presumed to be such an advertisement unless it is shown not to be” (clause 1 (3)). It would be a defence under the proposed legislation to show that the publication or distribution of an advertisement had happened in the normal course of business, and that the accused “did not know and had no reason to suspect” that the advertisement related to a brothel or to the services of a prostitute (clause 3). The Bill also sets out the specific liability of individuals within a body corporate (clause 4), and proposes that a person guilty of the offence should be held liable on summary conviction, or conviction on indictment, to a fine as set out by the Secretary of State in delegated legislation (clause 2).

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