Published 5:31 AM EDT Sep 27, 2018
HOUSTON – City leaders are pushing back against the rumored opening of a "sex robot brothel" in Houston, Texas, slated as the first of its kind in the country.
There is still no word on where or specifically when the "brothel" will open, but Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said it's not the type of business he’s looking for.
"It's not the sort of business that we advertise for, or we seek to attract," Turner said. "Or quite frankly, from my point of view, the sort of business that I want in the city of Houston."
A self-proclaimed "love dolls brothel," the company KinkySdollS already has one location in Toronto, and as posted online, another is planned for Houston. The company's owner said the brothel would open in early October.
Turner said he's checking with the city's legal department to see whether there are existing ordinances that could prohibit this type of business, or if an ordinance could be amended to either limit or regulate it.
"Just like with other sexual-oriented businesses, you can't be close to daycares, schools, churches, synagogues, things of that nature," Turner said.
Whether it's preventing the business altogether or just regulation, the city is still figuring out how to proceed.
“Look, I'm not trying to be the moral police, but I am charged with the health and safety of the people in our city," Turner said. "And I do want to make sure that an ordinance that came into existence in the 1990s is applicable to things that are taking place today."
More: There's no evidence having sex with robots is healthy, report says
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A Change.org petition has already gathered more than 8,000 signatures against the brothel’s opening.
The non-profit behind the petition focuses efforts on ending sex trafficking in Houston, saying the brothel "will only encourage more men to become sex buyers."
While the sex robot industry argues it creates "healthy companions," the medical community can't endorse that, a report earlier this year stressed.
There's no evidence showing how the dolls impact health, according to Susan Bewley, an obstetrician at King’s College London and Chantal Cox-George, a doctor at St. George’s University Hospitals, also in the British capital. The two analyzed medical journals and general online searches for any primary data relating to health aspects of sex robots and came up short.
"There are a number of health claims being made, but without foundation," Bewley told USA TODAY.
Contributing: Ashley May and Ryan Miller, USA TODAY