The first so-called "robot sex brothel" in the U.S. slated to open in the Houston area this month has prompted a massive backlash from residents and activists who say it will ruin the neighborhood.
The company opened its first location last year near Toronto, where $60 buys a half-hour alone with a robot sex doll, according to the Washington Examiner. The dolls start at $2,500 to buy.
Yuval Gavriel, the founder of KinkySdollS, made the announcement during an interview with the Examiner last week, telling the paper he plans to expand to 10 locations throughout the United States by 2020.
Elijah Rising, a Houston-based non-profit organization aimed at ending sex trafficking, started a petition titled “Keep Robot Brothels Out Of Houston.” The non-profit has more than 6,500 signatures as of early Tuesday morning.
“As a nonprofit whose mission is to end sex trafficking we have seen the progression as sex buyers go from pornography to strip clubs to purchasing sex—robot brothels will ultimately harm men, their understanding of healthy sexuality, and increase the demand for the prostitution and sexual exploitation of women and children,” the petition states.
The organization plans to present the petition to city’s mayor, according to FOX 26 Houston.
Residents are also expressing their opposition to the brothel, which Gavriel described as a “showroom” where customers can test and rent dolls before deciding to purchase one.
"There's kids around here and it's a family-oriented neighborhood and I live right here and to have that here is just gross," Andrea Paul told KTRK.
City officials told KHOU 11 on Friday they have not heard of the business, and a spokesperson with the City of Houston's Public Works said they do not have an address for where it will be located. Fox News reached out to the mayor’s office early Tuesday and did not immediately get a response.
The business does not meet the definition of a sexually oriented business and requires simply an occupancy permit, ABC 7 News reported.
Despite concerns, there are no regulations for the sex robot business, the Examiner reported. Activists and legal experts call on legislative action.
"I can buy two or three or four of these on the Internet and in Washington, D.C., or New York, or anywhere I want, I can set them up and charge people $100 an hour to use them," John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, told the Examiner.
In June, Congress voted to ban the importation and transportation of sex robots and dolls that look like children.