R.I.P. Margo MacDonald MSP

Margo MacDonald MSP passed away on 4th April 2014.

An independent MSP, she was truly a voice of reason in an increasingly right-thinking age. She was one of the few sex-positive politicians, and not shy about it either. Margo MacDonald was a fierce proponent of prostitution in Scotland. Unlike other politicians and activists, when she saw a prostitute or a lap dancer, she did not make a moral judgement that what they were doing was wrong. Instead, she saw women who were working, and deserved no less than any other working woman.

A memorial service for Margo will be held in Edinburgh on 25th April.

And now, a few of Margo MacDonald’s greatest hits:

I am a bit puzzled, as the Scottish Government promotes the safer sex message. It is an odd contradiction to ask saunas not to have any condoms in them. (30 October 2013)

I want an assurance from [Richard Lye MSP], if that is possible, that [following the creation of a single force in Scotland that] emphasis will be placed on continuing what was considered to be a successful policy in managing prostitution in the Lothian and Borders and Grampian regions, in comparison with the relative failure of zero tolerance in Strathclyde. (20 June 2013)

What are sexual activities? President Clinton‘s idea of what amounted to sex was different from Monica Lewinsky‘s. I am not being facetious: we have not attempted to say whether “sexual activity” means full intercourse or applies to people who want to engage in rather deviant behaviour but not sex. Are they allowed to pay for that or not, and what does “payment” amount to? Is it a nice night out at the casino and a visit to the races, getting the rent paid or gifts of jewellery? That is real life and real prostitution.
(30 June 2010)

I mention legitimate [sexual migrant workers] means because—some people will not want to hear this—not all those involved [in prostitution] are the [trafficking] victims that Trish Godman and Gil Paterson mentioned. Sex workers, who are already employed in selling sexual services, are also migrating here from eastern Europe. How are they to be treated and evaluated if they are picked up in a brothel? Are they to be treated in exactly the same way as underage girls who have been trafficked against their will and told that they would get a job as a nanny? As a result of our abhorrence of trafficking, we overlook some of the harsh realities that anyone making a policy must deal with. (20 March 2008)

I do not believe that it serves any good purpose for Rape Crisis Scotland to suggest that we can tackle the problems that are additional to the ones that are traditionally associated with prostitution by saying that any woman who is trafficked should be considered to be raped. That would confuse several legal concepts. (6 March 2008)

Will the member [David McLetchie MSP] be of the same opinion as to the validity of driving street prostitution underground if women are killed and more women are beaten up and violently attacked?

Does he agree that the unforeseen consequence of the power in amendment 1—should the Parliament decide to agree to it—could be to further endanger women, given that prostitution would be driven out of sight and out of the control of police forces?

Will the member explain what the purchasing of sex entails? Does money always have to change hands? Would jewellery suffice? How about a nice night out at the casino followed by a few drinks? Would that do? How are we to make that illegal? How stupid! (28 February 2007)

I challenge the contention that all prostitution is violence against women because such a contention is gender specific, which prostitution is not.
…the [anti-kerb-crawling] bill fails to achieve the means of exercising duties of care towards sex workers, who have the right not to be beaten and injured…. (17 January 2007)


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