FORMER SNP leadership hopeful Ash Regan is bidding to make paying for sex a criminal offence.

The SNP MSP and former community safety minister is running the “Unbuyable” campaign in a bid to end the purchase of sex in Scotland.

Currently, acts associated with prostitution – such as “kerb crawling”, public solicitation, and brothel keeping – are outlawed north of the Border.

However, the sale and purchase of sex is legal, as is running online pimping websites.

Regan has set up a campaign, running on, in order to bring in new legislation which will criminalise the buying of sex.

She told The National: “Unbuyable is more than a campaign; it’s a clarion call to end the systemic exploitation of women and girls in Scotland.

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“We are working to create a society where human dignity is non-negotiable and where women and girls are not for sale. With public support, we can turn this ambition into a reality.”

On the Unbuyable website, Regan adds: “As a society, we must confront the uncomfortable truth that the buying of sex is not a victimless act; it’s a form of exploitation that leaves lasting scars.

“My mission is to end this practice in Scotland, ensuring that human dignity is not a commodity to be traded. Together, we can build a Scotland where everyone is truly Unbuyable.”

The Scottish Government’s 2021-2022 Programme for Government (PfG) included a commitment to “undertake to develop a model for Scotland which effectively tackles and challenges men’s demand for prostitution”.

However, this commitment was missing from the two more recent programmes, for 2022-2023 and 2023-2024.

The National: The shocking issue came up during Stockton Council’s first full council meeting since its summer

In 2022, the secretary of the Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Dr Jacci Stoyle noted that Sweden had outlawed the purchase of sex in 1999.

“Since then, attitudes have changed and now only 0.29 per cent of men in Sweden buy sex,” she wrote in an article for the Scotsman, adding elsewhere that some 10 per cent of UK men admit to paying for sex.

The Swedish law is now known as the "Nordic Model", and organisations including Tara (Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance), the Encompass Network, Routes Out, and Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland have previously urged the Scottish Government to take a similar path.

The charity Zero Tolerance, which campaigns to end male violence against women, said in blog post penned in 2011 by lawyer Phillipa Greer that the current laws in Scotland are “unhelpful and contradictory, casting prostitutes as deviants by prioritising concerns of public nuisance”.

READ MORE: Letters: There are no easy solutions to the problem of sex work

Greer raised concerns that by criminalising public acts associated with the selling of sex, but not the purchase itself, Scots law was pushing women into more dangerous situations.

She wrote: “It is the very fact that such behaviour is visible in public that creates the offence. As well as overlooking the intrinsic harms caused to the prostitute, such offences actually serve to heighten the risk of harm to the women involved since they have less time to assess clients, often getting into cars more readily in an attempt to avoid attracting attention.

“They also prompt displacement, forcing prostitutes into less visible areas unmonitored by surveillance, the police and other prostitutes – whilst placing them further from the visibility of outreach agencies.”

For more information on Regan’s Unbuyable campaign you can visit the website here.