Councillors have dismissed concerns about a sex shop near primary schools using ‘bland’ gender symbols on its shop front.
Lovecraft on Cowbridge Road recently applied to Cardiff council to renew its sex establishment licence.
One person objected to the renewal due to concerns that children at the nearby schools would walk past and ask their parents about what the shop sells.
The shop used to have mannequins in its windows, but now has walls with gender symbols and a brief list of its wares for sale, including ‘lingerie, marital aids, books and aromas’.
But these concerns were dismissed by councillors on the public protection committee, on Tuesday, November 2, who described the symbols as bland and inoffensive.
The person who wrote to the council, objecting to the application, said: “The shop is on a busy shopping street in an otherwise largely residential area, yards from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, and only a short distance from Severn Primary School. It is also directly opposite a bus stop used by families travelling to and from the schools and city centre.
“The windows now display large images directly relating to sexual themes—traditional symbols for male and female, alongside newer variations. These symbols appear in much of the relationship and sex education material used within primary and secondary schools and are linked in children’s minds with sex and relationships.
“There is no question that young children ask parents and carers what the shop is for and what the different words mean in the displayed signage, including ‘rubberwear’ and ‘marital aids’. The signage is inappropriate and encourages the association of sex with commercialisation.”
Previously the shop windows had mannequins wearing outfits. One councillor claimed a few years ago the mannequins were arranged in sexual positions. After complaints, the shop owner agreed to tone down the display, eventually blocking off the windows completely.
Councillor Susan Goddard said: “I’m not offended by it but I had reserves about the mannequins in 2012. There was a woman kneeling down in front of a man mannequin, and that was very near the mark. He agreed to change that and did. But by having these symbols that children know what they are—we use them in schools—I don’t find them offensive.”
Cllr Bob Derbyshire said: “If we’re going to allow shops to sell items of a sexual nature, you’ve got to put something in the window presumably. To me, this is as bland as you could get, given what the contents of the shop presumably are. If schoolchildren know these symbols, then that’s part of growing up, learning that these places exist.”
Neither the owner of the shop nor the objector attended the meeting to give evidence.