Letter: Allow jobs for the boys

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The Independent Online
Hester Lacey's sensitive piece on Rupert Everett who "sort of fell into prostitution" raises important concerns ("Middle class boy to rent", Real Life, 13 July). A glance at the gay press shows a large number of young men, mostly in their twenties, working from rented premises as well as agencies providing "escort" services. In 1992, Professor Donald West, an eminent sociologist, concluded that these workers are not the stereotypical younger "rent boy" and that they "are pursuing a chosen vocation in a reasonably contended and effective manner".

By and large, the gay male prostitution business in London has escaped the attention of organised crime. Only street workers and their clients are at significant risk. However, uncertainty surrounds what is and is not legal and, as the recent conviction of the owner of one such high- quality establishment shows, the law prevents the provision of safe havens in the form of brothels, widely available in one form or another in continental Europe. It is time that UK society and the law changed.

Roger Anderson

London W6

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