PARIS, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- French lawmakers Saturday passed part of an anti-prostitution bill that includes a controversial schedule of fines for sex-trade customers.
The National Assembly spent several hours late Friday in a spirited debate over the proposed 1,500 euro ($2,038) fine for first-time violators before voting in favor of the measure early Saturday.
The measure was controversial because prostitution is legal in France -- although solicitation, pimping and the sale of sex by minors is prohibited, Radio France Internationale said.
The measure followed the lead of a Swedish law that supporters say has virtually cut street prostitution in Sweden in half. The bill prompted a series of demonstrations by sex workers both in favor of the bill and opposing it.
The penalties were part of a larger bill regulating prostitution that will be voted on next week. It will include decriminalization for soliciting by prostitutes while penalizing customers who solicit hookers.