Lausanne is the capital of the French-speaking canton of Vaud. Covering an area of 15.98 square miles, it is located on the shores of Lake Geneva and serves as home to 146,372 people (as of November 2015).
The city gained independence following the invasion of the French army under Napoléon Bonaparte in 1798. Five years later, it was admitted as part of Switzerland. Now it hosts the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee, the Olympic Museum and Olympic Park. Its center is dominated by a 12th-century Gothic cathedral, while the rest features art galleries, boutiques, bars, and restaurants.
There is no officially designated red-light district and the nightclubs are mostly located in the downtown area. The district of Sévelin is generally considered the red-light zone as street prostitution is legal and regulated there. The sex workers are of various nationalities including Africans, Bulgarians, Romanians, Turkish, among others.
How to Find the RLD
Sévelin is located near the Bellerive Hotel, and just a stone’s throw away from the Docks. Avenue de Sévelin is also near Rue de Sébeillon.
Stay Safe in the RLD
Lausanne is relatively safe, but any place that draws Rolex-donning bankers and throngs of tourists will surely bring out some pickpockets. Women traveling alone should not have any problems, except for those venturing in nightclubs.
Avoid walking past the MAD Club because the farther end of Rue de Geneve is known to be populated by prostitutes at night. Local police prefer remaining behind the scenes as some perceive their presence as potentially threatening. In general, you’re safe but if for any reason you feel threatened or find yourself in trouble, go to a nearby telephone booth, café or restaurant and dial the police emergency number (117).
The adult entertainment industry is pretty much the same as those in other major European cities. However, the prostitution scene has changed significantly since 2002 after the enforcement of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement which allowed companies and independent workers from member states of the European Union to come and work in Switzerland for 90 days a year. Consequently, scores of European prostitutes began migrating and working for brief periods.
Aside from the typical street prostitutes, sex clubs, adult cinemas, nightclubs and Kontaktbars freely operate in Lausanne. Kontaktbars are venues where prostitutes hang out and pick up clients. Some are like typical nomad bars where sex workers mingle with ‘normal’ people, with or without the consent of the owner.
Street prostitution is legally observed in the industrial district of Sévelin. Until the turn of the new millennium, the majority of the prostitutes were local, and most of them stayed in the sex trade for years. You’ll see the same faces month after month, with the girls offering their services in the same area. Today, street prostitution is dominated by women who only stay in the city for a brief period, usually 90 days, following the enactment of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement. Some of the women come only once, while others come a few months each year. Most of them are South Americans with a European passport.
Those who decide to stay in the industry pay a tax of 5 Swiss Francs ($5.39) for each night they work as a prostitute. It has been estimated that there are 14,000 registered prostitutes across the country. The sex workers have unions and they are encouraged to charge no less than $100 to a client.
Prostitution is allowed as long as sex workers are over 18 years of age. However, prostitutes must register with city and health officials and undergo regular health checks.
Soliciting or the facilitation of sex workers in the arrangement of sex is illegal and most prostitutes work independently out of small studios or massage parlors through mobile phones. They are not allowed to advertise their services. Having sexual intercourse with someone under 16 carries a prison sentence of up to five years while coercing an individual into prostitution is punishable by up to ten years in prison.
As for gays, there’s a strong contrast between the countryside and major cities when it comes to public discourse about their rights. Individual rights have traditionally been given high priority across Switzerland, and privacy is considered a fundamental asset. Although some personal behaviors change slower than the laws, the public is generally tolerant of the LGBT community.
Most of the nightlife takes place in Le Flon, an industrial area around the Flon metro station. Another point of interest is Rue de Geneve as it is teeming with clubs. Le Loft is just right on the steps of Bel-Air and is usually packed. The D! club features some international DJs playing house music some nights and jungle in other nights. The MAD Club (Moulin à Danse) lies close to the end of the club row and is one of the most popular in Lausanne. It’s hard to miss, thanks to the enormous pink condom decorating the venue.
Aside from the Flon, Le Tunnel and Rue Enning also have some dazzling nightlife. The area around the chateau also has some nice offerings. The "Le Chateau" pizzeria is the only establishment serving food in the middle of the night. For more alternative scenes, try to visit Avenue de France. There you will find some chic bars and an alternative cinema called "The Oblo", which features an interesting collection of movies.
The gay scene is concentrated on Avenue de Tivoli which has a cluster of gay business establishments including saunas and sex clubs like Sauna Pink Beach and Trafick.
Elsewhere in the city, you’ll find gay-friendly venues. There are actually eight gay bars and clubs across Lausanne, namely Le Mad-23 in rue de Genève; 43 & 10 in rue du Bourg; Bar l'Entrée in avenue de Tivoli; Le Tramway in rue de la Pontaise; Le Saxo in rue de la Grotte; ML 16-16 in avenue Montloisir; Café Des Amis in rue Dr César; and Métroplis-20-22 in rue Louis de Savoie.
General Attitude Towards Gays
The city has a vibrant LGBT community with a wide selection of gay and lesbian activities. It has a modern outlook and attitude towards a lot of things, gay and lesbian relationships included. The public is generally tolerant of gays, so discrimination or bias-motivated violence is virtually unheard of.
Gay Prostitution in Lausanne
Gay prostitutes do exist but they are discrete and mostly advertise online.
Majority of the transsexual prostitutes work from brothels and private flats. Just like gay prostitutes, they rarely venture into the open and largely depend on online advertising to make their presence felt. The minimum charge is 100 Swiss Francs, but the typical going rate is a couple hundred Swiss Francs per hour. Most of the shemales are from Spain and South America.