Keith Vaz use to feature frequently on Melon Farmers due a series of ludicrous whinges blaming video games for all Britain's ills. He has wisely kept quiet on
the topic for the last few years though.
Now he has rather rudely been by outed as a gay customer of sex workers by the Sunday Mirror. This rather conflicts with his chairmanship of the influential Commons Home Affairs parliamentary select committee which is looking into Britain's laws
governing sex work.
He conceded on Sunday that he would have to relinquish his post as chair committee, at least temporarily. Although he said he would not be making a formal announcement until he meets the committee on Tuesday, he effectively confirmed that he would have
to stand aside when he issued a statement saying he did not want to be a distraction .
The Labour MP also condemned the conduct of the Sunday Mirror, saying it was deeply troubling that a national newspaper should have paid individuals who have acted in this way .
Vaz has not been overly hypocritical about sex work law, it is not as if he has been pushing for the criminalisation of people who buy sex. In its interim report on prostitution in July, the home affairs committee said:
We are not yet convinced that the sex buyer law would be effective in reducing demand or in improving the lives of sex workers, either in terms of the living conditions for those who continue to work in prostitution or the effectiveness of services to
help them find new ways to earn a living.
Evaluations of the impact of sex buyer laws are largely based on data about street prostitution, and therefore offer little insight into the large parts of the sex industry which take place in various indoor environments, and there are indications that
the law can be misused to harass and victimise sex workers, who are the very people whom the law is seeking to protect.
Vaz also argued in parliament that poppers should not be included in a list of substances banned by the Psychoactive Substances Act and in the paper he is quoted as telling the escorts that he did not use them himself.
Chris Ashford in his lawandsexuality
blog points out that the Vaz evening of fun was not particularly unusual amongst the gay community:
It actually doesn't sound like that unusual night for many gay men who might engage in group sex bareback encounters, with some guys using class A drugs, many using poppers and perhaps some guys there who are sex workers (who may or may not be performing
that identity). The problem here is that Vaz is married to a woman and has as Pink News noted , apparently been outed by this story. Vaz has generally taken liberal positions on sex work and so there's arguably no hypocrisy there.
However Journalist and equality campaigner Paris Lees commented to thesun.co.uk
that Vaz was not totally above a bit of hypocrisy when he grilled her as chainman of the Home Affairs committee. She said:
This is same Keith Vaz who told me, last May, that he 'couldn't believe' I'd never met a prostitute that hadn't been forced into it.
I told him that during my time on the game, I never met a prostitute who HAD been forced into it.
Why is he paying prostitutes for sex if he thinks they are forced into it?
Offsite Comment: The outrage against Keith Vaz is nothing but Victorian puritanism
6th September 2016. See article from politics.co.uk
by Ian Dunt
He has a range of views on a range of topics. Some of them, like his obsession with violent games, are very silly. Some are
downright morally reprehensible, such as his help in whipping up outrage against Salman Rushdie over the Satanic Verses. Some are perfectly commendable, such as his continued commitment to people lost and betrayed by the asylum and immigration system.
Regardless of their relative validity, they earned him enemies, who will now get involved in picking away at the remnants of his career. Not the least of these will be anti-prostitution groups, who were dismayed by a recent home affairs committee report
which recommended decriminalising sex work completely. They are likely to use the story to discredit that report.
See article from politics.co.uk
Offsite Comment: Keith Vaz's sex life does not matter
7th September 2016. See article from medium.com
In the wake of the news there are a lot of people saying uninformed shit. People who weren't there trying to rewrite Home Affairs
Select Committee's hearings on prostitution. I was called to give evidence. Maybe you remember; it was in a lot of papers. Here is what really happened back in May.
All media coverage from May noted how me and @ParisLees had to stomp hard on bullshit lines of questioning from hostile MPs to get any of our points across. We went there fully expecting, and pretty much got, a beasting. Compare to the easy questions
lobbed at Kat Banyard at the first hearing, who was never a sex worker and has never worked with a prostitution charity or outreach...as far as anyone can tell, her only firsthand experience with sex workers is having met me in a BBC green room once.
When I called out the committee for visiting Sweden and Denmark without meeting local sex worker-led orgs, Keith Vaz had the audacity to claim that they had. I know he was wrong; sex work organisations were shut out of the consultation visits. Why?
Because Vaz had been a vocal supporter of the Swedish model. Now people are trying to imply Vaz gave us a helping hand in the results? As if.
...Read the full article from medium.com