Officials Just Banned a 'Sex Robot Brothel' in Houston & People are Conflicted

City council members in Houston, Texas, have voted unanimously to pass an ordinance that prevents a proposed “sex robot brothel” from opening in the city, USA Today reports.

“It’s not the sort of business that we advertise for, or we seek to attract,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

On Tuesday, the council hosted a public forum for residents to express their thoughts about the potential new business, ABC 13 reports. Many people said they felt opening the brothel would look bad for Houston, and that they feared it would promote sex trafficking.

“We all see the connection to the devaluation, and the abuse, and the exploitation of women,” said Beau Abdulla, founder of Love People Not Pixels. The organization’s website says it aims to “inspire a cultural shift where individuals, families, and communities make choices to reject pornography and defend one another from sexual exploitation.”

One woman, interviewed by WOAI in San Antonio, voiced her disapproval as well, saying “They shouldn’t be opening anything like that. We have enough crime in this world. To add more to it would just be ridiculous.”

In an interview with KHOU 11, an employee of the business, KinkySdollS, said “It’s really about giving someone another option of how to be loved, or how to express their love or their sexuality.”

Prior to this ordinance, however, the business wouldn’t have been committing any crime. A document that details the ordinance shows that it’s actually an amendment to one that was originally passed in 1983, and subsequently amended through 1997.

Before the vote on Wednesday, the ordinance stated only that Sexually Oriented Businesses, including “adult arcades,” had to be at least 1,500 feet from churches, schools, daycares, public parks, and residential areas. The amendment that passed on Wednesday says that sex robots can’t be used at a business, but they can still be sold.

The woman, who wished to be referred to only as Magdalena, added that not only would it be good for “lonely men” who “have no outlet,” but that “It’s good for the women, too, who don’t have to be objectified anymore, or harassed, or belittled, or demeaned.”

KinkySdollS owner Yuval Gavriel told ABC 13 that the business could help prevent human trafficking and prostitution, but these claims haven’t yet been proven, USA Today adds.

Until further research can be done, we don’t know what effect sex robots will have on our culture. Many people, like Magdalena, think it’ll help keep women safe by giving men other ways to sate their desires. Others feel the concept of sex robots is too rooted in the objectification of women to be beneficial, and may even make the problem worse. Either way, it seems an idea that once felt far-off and futuristic is now knocking on our door, and it's our responsibility to protect real people through our response.