By Lisa Maria Garza
DALLAS (Reuters) - The city of Dallas voted on Wednesday to ban an erotica expo featuring porn stars, sex toy sales and a whipping dungeon from a city-owned convention center, with event opponents saying it could taint the city's image.
Supporters countered by saying the "Exxxotica Expo" has been held without major incident for years in various locations, adding worries about reputation are weakened by the city allowing numerous strip clubs to operate for years within a few miles of the downtown venue where the event was planed.
A divided Dallas city council voted 8-7 on a resolution by Mayor Mike Rawlings to prevent the Exxxotica Expo from returning to the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in 2016. It was held in Dallas in 2015.
"I do not believe this event is good for our city's brand,” Rawlings said. "This is a business that participates in the commerce of sex, pure and simple."
The center's namesake, former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, was sitting among expo opponents in the crowd and did not speak at the meeting.
Expo organizer J. Handy said he would turn to the courts and seek a temporary injunction, according to reports from local media at the meeting.
"Today Dallas officials acknowledged our First Amendment rights. And then voted against them. There will be an @EXXXOTICA in Dallas in ’16,” the expo posted on its Twitter page following the decision.
The three-day event first appeared in Dallas in August. It is already scheduled to make stops this year in Illinois, Ohio and New Jersey.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown told the council that undercover officers saw no crimes committed at last year’s event, and there was no reported spike in prostitution or violations of the state's obscenity laws.
(Reporting by Lisa Maria Garza; Writing Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)