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Activists hope to stop first US sex robot brothel from opening in Texas

Elijah's Rising, an organization that is trying to end sex trafficking, has started a petition to keep a robot sex brothel from opening in Houston. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

A Canadian company plans to open the first U.S. sex robot brothel in Houston next week. But a local nonprofit organization hopes to slam the brakes on the owner's plans, KTRK-TV reported.

Elijah's Rising, a Houston-based 501(c)(3) organization that's trying to end sex trafficking, is outraged that the Toronto-based company plans to open up shop in Houston.

"We were absolutely horrified," Micah Gamboa of Elijah's Rising told KTRK.

Yuval Gavriel, the owner of KinkySdolls, told the Washington Examiner that there's a big market for sex robots.

"The States is a bigger market, and a healthier market and God bless Trump," Gavriel told the Examiner.

Gavriel opened his first shop in Canada last year and hopes to open 10 U.S. locations by 2020.

Elijah's Rising believes the robot brothel will set back any progress being made against sex trafficking, Gamboa told KTRK.

"Our biggest concern is that this sex brothel with robots is gonna train men to become rapists," Gamboa told KTRK. "What's next? Is it child robots? Where's the line? Where is the boundary?"

What is a robot sex brothel?

Customers would be able to rent or purchase a sex robot. The realistic, life-sized robots have different features and their own names.

"We feel just like the real thing," the website touts.

The dolls can be rented at $80 for 30 minutes or $120 for an hour.

A room is provided where renters can "play and have fun," according to the website.

The dolls are also available for purchase from a few thousand dollars to more than $10,000.

Is this even legal?

According to legal experts, it doesn't appear to be illegal in Texas.

"As disgusting as some people may find it, I think under the law, it's legal," lawyer Steve Shellist told KTRK.

Shellist said a state law that would have banned this type of business was ruled unconstitutional 10 years ago.

Gavriel told the Examiner that he and his coalition of four investors hired an attorney to determine whether there were laws that would prevent him from opening his business.

"He went through all the laws and all of the regulations and currently there are no regulations for this kind of service," the owner said.

What else does Elijah's Rising say?

Elijah's Rising said it disagrees with the people who believe sex robots could help stop men from purchasing sex from prostitutes.

"It will create an expansion of the already dehumanized act of sex buying. Sex robots will not decrease sex trafficking in Houston, it will only train more men to become sex buyers," according to a news release on its website.

The group also says robot sex brothels will not reduce violence against women.

"[T]he notion of sex robots reducing prostitution is as ridiculous as saying the advent of blow up dolls could deter rape. As long as we further reduce the female body as an object for masturbation free from the 'inconvenience' of consent, women will not be seen as equals," the release continued.

The organization believes religious groups need to actively fight against the sex robot industry.

"The rise in pornography use among Christians is staggering, and it leads to the hidden issue of abuse within our congregations. If we stand idly by as Houston is named the first in the nation to receive one of these robot brothels, what will we tolerate next? The issues in the realm of hypersexual culture are not so far removed from what God is calling us to stand for," the organization said.

Elijah's Rising has started an online petition in hopes of stopping the brothel from opening.

"We can't allow these kind of public masturbation businesses to operate in our city," Gamboa said.

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