Mayor: Houston won’t just mechanically accept robot brothel
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 Change.org 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.