The motion was filed by Socialist Party city councillor Christine Seidler last week, reported Sunday paper Schweiz am Sonntag.
According to Seidler, a council-sponsored brothel would give more security to prostitutes who have been forced away from Zurich city centre after new regulations came into effect three years ago.
A 2013 Zurich bylaw bans sex workers from plying their trade on certain residential streets in the city centre including the Sihlquai in Kreis 4, once a notorious red light district.
“The majority of sex workers are self-employed, something which is becoming more difficult to do with the new regulations on these activities,” Seidler told the paper.
Pushed out of the city centre, the women are at risk of becoming dependent on pimps, she said, adding that an urban brothel – managed by the prostitutes themselves – would substantially improve their working conditions.
The plan is yet to convince everyone, however, including members of Seidler’s own Socialist Party, who have questioned whether they can be both against prostitution but in favour of a municipal brothel.
“I am against prostitution, but we must accept reality. It is important to create better working conditions for sex workers,” countered Seidler.
Swiss People’s Party (SVP) councillor Martin Götzl argued against the motion, telling the paper “It cannot be the job of the city to operate a brothel with tax money.”
Zurich already provides for prostitutes in the form of drive-in ‘sex boxes’ which opened in August 2013 in an industrial sector on the outskirts of town.
Aiming to give sex workers safer working conditions away from the centre of town, the cubicles sit within a fenced-in site only accessible by car and are equipped with security guards, medical staff and alarm buttons.
A year later the scheme was hailed a success by the city’s council and social services, which said the drive-in protected prostitutes and helped curb streetwalking in other areas of the city.
Prostitution is legal in Switzerland but it is controlled by regulations and sex trade workers are required to have valid working permits.