After days of heavy dispute both amongst Barcelona’s citizens, its politicians as well as Spanish and international media, the verdict appears to be that Barcelona’s prostitutes will soon be able to “legally practice their profession” in commercial premises and apartments.

The big debate was stirred up last week, after El Pais published photos of tourists having sex with prostitutes in the streets of Barcelona and around the famous La Boqueria market at night. The photos even led Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to join the discussion, demanding Barcelona to clear out its prostitutes.

The councilor of Citutat Vella, Itziar González, expressed the city council’s intention of modifiying the urban plan to grant licenses of “bars with privées” in order to allow sexual practices. The legal changes would be finalized this month and come into effect towards the beginning of 2010. The government hopes to rid Barcelona’s streets of prostitution with the new measure.

The measure has been very well received by prostitutes, business owners as well as neighbourhood assocations, nevertheless the opposition lead by CiU party leader Xavier Trias, sees the measure as an “easy way out and cowardly” as well as a “step back from the regeneration of the area”. The PP party leader Alberto Fernandez. sees the new measures as contradictory: “First legal measures to fight prostitution are demanded” and then “new measures are taken to help open brothels”.

The debate on prostitution in Barcelona is set to follow a long and winding road.