Scots sex workers will able to join an official union for the adult entertainment industry for the first time.

Strippers, burlesque dancers and porn actors, as well as those working in prostitution, will all be able to unionise through a branch of the GMB union in Glasgow, which is being established.

Running a brothel is illegal in Britain, forcing most sex workers to deal with customers alone, leaving them vulnerable to violence.

While it is not illegal to sell sex in Scotland, nor is it illegal to work in the general erotic industry, there are strict laws against "soliciting", or street prostitution, and "brothel keeping".

Prostitution has long been considered one of the most high-risk occupations in the world and the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and Amnesty International have both called on governments to decriminalise it entirely.

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An estimated 60,000 to 80,000 sex workers trade in the UK, 80 per cent of which are women.

Scotland is proposing to back a ‘Nordic model’, criminalising those who pay for sex, but not those selling it.

However, the GMB union argues this does not account for workers who have no desire to leave the sex industry.

Critics of the ‘Nordic model’ say that safety checks are hindered due to clients’ fear of arrest.

Sex worker Megara Furie, 35, set up the adult entertainment industry branch of the GMB union in Scotland.

She says the proposals from the SNP will leave workers at further risk of harm.

Ms Furie said: "Sex work covers everything from stripping to burlesque, go-go dancers, cam workers, people who make porn - any sort of sexual labour or erotic service is under sex work.

"There are laws in place that are making everyone's work unsafe and there are proposals to bring in new laws that could make it even less safe.

"It doesn't make the work go away.

“Even if you criminalise clients, it's not going to end demand. Basically, all it does is remove any safeguards that we've got."

She argued that sex workers need a union to give them the same protection as someone in a ‘normal’ job.

Ms Furie said: "Our main aims are to secure workers' safety and workers' rights.

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“We're also hoping to have something to do with sex work included in discrimination laws.

"We want people to be safe, we want to end discrimination and we want to have the same rights as every other self-employed person.

"We're trying to take the sex out of sex workers because we just want to be seen as workers.

"Clients being fearful of being arrested made the usual safety checks almost impossible to carry out which seriously affected the safety of my work.

"This is something we want to avoid happening across the board in Scotland.

"This union is about giving workers their autonomy to be able to run their business however they see fit, so long as it's safe."

Rhea Wolfson, GMB organiser for Glasgow city, has been vocal in her support work of Ms Furie and her new branch's ambitions to challenge existing policy.

She told how sex workers had been "excluded" from both Holyrood and the general conversation about sex work for too long.

Ms Wolfson said: "There will be a right side of history and a wrong side of history on this one.

"From the trade union perspective, it's an unusual venture, not because of the work they do but because they are self-employed and that's not how we typically work.

"It is about collectivising this work.

“It's about finding a way to make sex workers feel less isolated, because everything in the law is geared to isolate them - physically and otherwise - which raises questions about their safety.

"You can't have a conversation about sex work without sex workers, and that's one of the things that the GMB wants to make sure we change."

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