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Monday, August 10, 1998 Published at 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK

World: Americas

No sex please, we're New Yorkers

The mayor wants to clean up the streets of New York

The mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, has introduced a law which effectively bans the majority of the city's sex shops and strip clubs.

The BBC's Jane Hughes: "These days, the girls look almost prudish"
In the latest move in a campaign to clean up the city's streets, the mayor has banned adult entertainment at any premises within 500 yards of homes, schools, churches, mosques or synagogues. In a densely populated area like New York, that leaves very few places where sex clubs can operate legally.

[ image: Adult entertainment is banned close to homes or places of worship]
Adult entertainment is banned close to homes or places of worship
The mayor says sex clubs damage quality of life and his views are echoed by right-wing groups who believe the end of the sex industry will open the way for more profitable kinds of investment in the city.

But the sex industry is fighting back, arguing that the law is a breach of civil liberties contrary to the US constitution. The industry has found an ally in the American Civil Liberties Union, which is appealing against the law to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, changes are visible as the city's sex clubs and shops try to get around the regulations. Dancers are wearing more modest bikinis to stop them falling foul of the new laws.

Some shops are changing their names to make their function less obvious. Others are packing their shelves with tourist trinkets to take advantage of a legal loophole which allows the sale of sex toys as a proportion of the shop's merchandise.

But others are failing to adapt and finding themselves closed down before the legal appeal goes to the courts.

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