Mayor: Hous­ton won’t just me­chan­i­cally ac­cept ro­bot brothel

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Nation & World - By Juan A. Lozano As­so­ci­ated Press

HOUS­TON — A so-called ro­bot brothel a Cana­dian com­pany said it wants to open in Hous­ton is get­ting push­back from lo­cal of­fi­cials and com­mu­nity groups, with the mayor say­ing the city is re­view­ing its or­di­nances to de­ter­mine if they ad­dress pub­lic safety and health is­sues raised by the busi­ness.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said he’s not try­ing to be the “moral po­lice” but this is not the type of busi­ness he wants open­ing in the city.

“We do need to be very mind­ful of what comes into our city and what our chil­dren and oth­ers may be ex­posed to. So I want to be very sen­si­tive to that,” Turner said last week.

KinkyS­dollS an­nounced last month on its Face­book page that it plans on open­ing a “love dolls brothel” in Hous­ton. It would be the com­pany’s se­cond lo­ca­tion. The first lo­ca­tion opened in 2017 in Toronto.

On its so­cial me­dia pages, KinkyS­dollS says its hu­man-like dolls, which can speak and feel warm to the touch, are for sale or rent.

City in­spec­tors have vis­ited the site of the pro­posed busi­ness and have or­dered the owner to ap­ply for a de­mo­li­tion per­mit af­ter they no­ticed con­struc­tion work had been done with­out a per­mit, said Alanna Reed, a spokes­woman for Hous­ton’s pub­lic works depart­ment.

Reed said her depart­ment has not been told when the busi­ness plans on open­ing.

Turner said he’s asked the city’s le­gal and health de­part­ments to re­view all or­di­nances, in­clud­ing those re­lated to sex­u­ally ori­ented busi­nesses, to see if any of them will cover this type of busi­ness.

The city may have to amend cur­rent or­di­nances or cre­ate a new one “to limit or reg­u­late these types of busi­nesses,” Turner said.

Is­sues Hous­ton of­fi­cials are re­view­ing about the pro­posed ro­bot brothel in­clude whether it has to be lo­cated a cer­tain dis­tance away from schools, day care cen­ters and churches — as other sex­u­ally-ori­ented busi­nesses have to be — and health con­cerns re­lated to any re­use and clean­ing of the dolls.

Eli­jah Ris­ing, a Hous­ton­based non­profit fo­cused on end­ing sex traf­fick­ing, has started a pe­ti­tion ask­ing that the busi­ness be kept out of the city.

“Ro­bot broth­els will ul­ti­mately harm men, their un­der­stand­ing of healthy sex­u­al­ity and in­crease the de­mand for the pros­ti­tu­tion and sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of women and chil­dren,” Eli­jah Ris­ing wrote in its pe­ti­tion, which has re­ceived more than 8,700 sig­na­tures.

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