Queenstown’s brothel ban about to go limp

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Brothels are a step closer to becoming a reality in Queenstown’s CBD once more. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council today (Wednesday) approved a “statement of proposal” permitting a red-light zone bounded by Shotover Street, Camp St, Earl St, Marine Parade and Rees St. 

The draft bylaw will now go out for public consultation.

The legislative move comes after an earlier review of the existing brothel bylaw found QLDC “could be subject to challenge” in court because the bylaw may run counter to the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, which legalised the sale of sex. 

After the new prostitution law passed in 2004, QLDC made it virtually impossible for a house of sin to open in the CBD. 

That existing bylaw bans brothels from being within 100m of residential homes, schools, pre-schools, churches, community facilities and reserves. 

Virtually all the CBD is within 100m of protected patches, such as Earnslaw Park, the Recreation Ground, Village Green and St Peter’s Church. 

Queenstown’s then sole brothel, Candy’s, was exempt because it had operated from its Shotover St site for four years – but Candy’s closed in December 2008 and it looked like brothels would effectively be banned forever. 

The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective told Mountain Scene at the time that QLDC’s bylaw made Queenstown the only resort in the country banning brothels. 

“About the only place a brothel could be located [in Queenstown] would be underneath the waters of the lake,” national coordinator Catherine Healy said. 

The only restrictions on brothels in the resort red-light district are that they mustn’t be on the ground floor or below ground – with signage size restricted and content confined to the name of the business or proprietor. 

Changes to the old bylaw also mean brothels could now be set up in “an aircraft, hovercraft, ship, ferry or other vessel, caravan, campervan, vehicle, train or any other form of motorised or non-motorised moveable crontrivance”.