Councilwoman Wants Strip Clubs Out of Tel Aviv, Too

Buoyed by a ruling ordering a strip joint closed in neighboring Ramat Gan, Gaby Lasky is making her voice heard in the big city

File photo: Protesters outside a Tel Aviv strip club on June 12, 2017
Yuval Feder

Monday’s court ruling ordering the closure of a strip joint in Ramat Gan’s Diamond Exchange District could lead to many such clubs being closed in neighboring Tel Aviv as well.

On Tuesday, Tel Aviv City Councilwoman Gaby Lasky demanded that municipal officials use the ruling to do just that, and city officials said they were still studying the ruling and its implications. But Lasky, who chairs the city council’s gender equality committee, urged them to draw up a plan to close the strip joints as soon as possible.

Ramat Gan plans to use the ruling to shut down every strip club in the Diamond Exchange District, even though some have been operating for many years.

In Monday’s ruling, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen said strip shows can’t be considered entertainment because they degrade women and harm their dignity. Therefore, strip joints can’t operate in an area zoned by Ramat Gan for “clubs” and “entertainment,” she said.

“The local council has the authority to decide that strip clubs, whose purpose is sexual stimulation, won’t open,” Lasky wrote to municipal officials. “Back when I began my term, I argued that the very existence of strip clubs harms women’s dignity and bodies, and that this isn’t entertainment. Therefore, their licenses shouldn’t be renewed.”

Now that a court has backed this view, “there are no more excuses for continuing to permit strip clubs to operate in this city,” she concluded.

Last December, the Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court to shut down the Pussycat strip club on Tel Aviv’s Atarim Square. At the time, the Tel Aviv municipality responded that the law did not forbid strip shows, so the club had been granted a business license, conditional on police approval.

Shortly after that petition was filed, the police told the municipality that the club also contained private rooms serviced by prostitutes. In March, therefore, the club’s license was canceled.

But it remains in operation, because it has removed the private rooms and applied for a new license.

In its response to the court, the Tel Aviv municipality said it attaches great importance to stamping out prostitution in the city and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies in doing so. Still, it said, strip shows “are not forbidden by law.”