Second supplementary memorandum submitted
by the Department for International Development
RESPONSE ON THE POSSIBILITY OF LIMITING UK
SEX TOURISM IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
1. This complex issue involves a number
of parties in addition to the UK sex tourists themselves, including
the Governments of the UK and the host countries, the relevant
ministries in each, travel agents, and institutions and individuals
in the sex industry in the host countries.
2. In the UK, the government departments
with potential interests include the Home Office and the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office. For the most part, however, so long as
laws were not broken nor consular matters raised, neither would
be likely to become engaged. We understand that it is now possible
for UK citizens to be prosecuted for having sex with minors in
countries sch as Thailand, and that a number of precedents exist
for this. However, it is also likely that (a) only a small proportion
of such cases would come to the attention of the authorities,
and (b) that they would involve a minority of foreign tourists
who purchase sex.
3. The travel industry has been accused,
in the past, of promoting or enabling sex tourism to take place,
though understandably industry representatives have denied this.
There could be scope for government consultation with the industry.
4. The abolitionist approach to the sex
industry has not been successful as a way of reducing HIV infection.
By taking a more constructive approach, the Thai Government has
demonstrated the value of promoting safe behaviour in brothels
through its world-acclaimed 100 per cent condom campaign. This
was highly successful in contributing to the reduction of HIV
infection in Thailand.
5. DFID does not have a role in relation
to the potential Home Office or FCO interests, but does have a
role in supporting national risk-reduction programmes for HIV/AIDS.
Where sex tourism exists, it is likely to be one part of a well-established
national sex industry. Well-designed national HIV/AIDS programmes
collaborate with commercial sex workers and their clients as important
partners in limiting the spread of HIV. In countries where DFID
supports the national response to HIV/AIDS, it always considers
the countries' needs for financial or technical assistance with
its targeted interventions, including interventions with sex workers
Health and Population Division
Department for International Development