Brussels bans 'sugar daddy' dating site street ads

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Authorities in the Belgian capital Brussels have banned an advertising campaign for a dating website putting young women in touch with rich older men, that politicians said encouraged prostitution.

Billboards seen on lorries around the city’s university quarter at the start of the academic year read: “Hey women students! Improve your lifestyle. Go out with a ‘sugar daddy’.”

Rudi Vervoort, the head of the Brussels regional government said his administration had taken a “simple decision, namely the total ban (on the billboards) in the whole area of the Brussels Region.”

“I’m not here to lecture anyone, as long as it is between consenting adults,” he said. “On the other hand we are facing here a mechanism, in a way, a form of ‘pimping 2.0’.”

The site’s founder, Norwegian Sigurd Vedal, has said the site “RichMeetBeautiful”, which operates in several countries, aims to put people in contact with each other, and has denied any similarity to prostitution.

Vedal told Belgian broadcaster VTM that young women were looking for “something more than just appearance” from older men, citing the values of mentoring and “meaningful mental stimulation”.

Reporting by Farah Salhi Additional reporting by Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; Writing by Lily Cusack; Editing by Robin Pomeroy