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9 October 2017, 17:13
The Scottish Government has been urged to bring in new legislation to outlaw the "shameful" and "immoral" practice of sex for rent deals.
The SNP conference in Glasgow unanimously passed a motion calling on ministers to consider introducing a new law that would make it an offence to advertise accommodation as being "free" with the intent of soliciting sexual relationships.
Greenock and Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan hit out at the practice, saying: "Sex for rent is wrong, it's cruel, it's immoral. It preys on the most vulnerable in society. Let's show the world we actually care and we will do something about this shameful practice."
During the debate delegates at the conference heard examples of some of the adverts placed online targeting those in "desperate situations".
Math Campbell-Sturgess said these were aimed at "usually young women, occasionally men, often students", adding that "amongst the genuine adverts for flatmates with a good sense of humour are adverts like this - 'Free room in flat offered to single girl in exchange for sexual favours a couple of times a month.
"This would be a private room in a small flat you would live in which I would pay for in exchange for sex. You would live there on your own, I have my own place.'
"Here's another - 'Room for rent, £1 per month with fun when wife is out'."
Another advert read: "Looking for a female room mate, an attractive female to help keep me company, perhaps clean the house. I don't you want you to bring other guys over and would require us to have fun together.
"If you're in a rough patch, maybe tight for money or trying to save money while going to uni, this could be a great deal."
Mr Campbell-Sturgess added: "Because no money changes hands it's a very legally grey area, it's not considered prostitution by many.
"But also the perpetrators aren't considered landlords, thus their victims have no recourse through Scotland's tenancy laws.
"There's absolutely nothing stopping you throwing the person out on the street one fine morning, and all the police can do is say 'we can't get involved'."
He made clear to the conference: "This is not something that happens elsewhere, this is happening today in this very city. It's time we did something about it."