July 17, News BBC

Plans to legalise prostitution for the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa have been criticised by religious groups and opposition parties.

The local authority in Durban wants legalised adult entertainment venues during the tournament.

But African Nazareth Democratic Movement (ANDM) president Thokozani Hlatshwayo said the proposal was "against the word of God".

Opposition parties fear that, if introduced, it could become permanent.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance and the youth wing of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) have condemned the suggestion.

"Plans to legalise Durban's red-light districts before the 2010 World Cup should be condemned in the strongest possible manner," said Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi of the IFP youth brigade.

She said the South African government was sending out mixed messages to young people.

"On the one hand it preaches strong family values and moral regeneration, but on the other hand they want to legalise prostitution on Durban's streets. It doesn't make sense," she said.

An additional concern is Aids - some five million people in South Africa are HIV-positive - making it one of the world's worst-hit countries.

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photo: The authority says it wants to protect sex workers (News BBC)