STUC has received queries from a number of sources regarding the cancelling of the Sex Workers Open University event. This statement provides an explanation of the decision to cancel this event.
Last week the STUC discovered that the specific title of the event it was asked to host was entitled “The Scottish Context: Opposing Criminalisation of Clients.” This was brought to our attention because a number of individuals and organisations contacted us to ask why we were taking this view. While this is a position supported by the Sex Workers Open University and other groups, it is diametrically opposed to the position STUC holds - a position reached as a consequence of its democratic process.
It is not the case that the STUC centre is open for hire without limitations and STUC hosting an event which states a view directly contrary to its adopted position has the potential to create false or confusing impressions.
STUC believes it is important to separate the specific matter of support or not for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex from the more general discourse on organising and the self-organisation of sex workers. STUC continues to recognise the significant issues and complications in respect of organisation but remains open to a discourse with unions and other groups on this question.
STUC has been accused by the SWOU and others of preventing sex workers sharing experiences of self-organising but this was quite clearly not the issue at hand for the advertised event. STUC believes it is disingenuous to suggest that declining to host an event proscribing a position on criminalisation with which we disagree, can be equated with a more generalised antipathy towards self-organisation.
STUC April 2013