A small but vocal number of Christians on the city council and elsewhere are protesting the establishment of a museum of prostitution in Kalgoorlie.

Construction began last month after the council gave approval on a 7-to-6 vote. The proposal had been defeated earlier. The museum will memorialize the brothels set up in the western Australia desert for gold miners a century ago. Kalgoorlie is about 250 miles inland from Perth, Western Australia.

Nowadays, the city of 35,000, rather than being dominated by adventurous male transients, is home to many married couples who want a stable place to raise young children.

Although prostitution is legal in Australia, Christians and family-minded residents say the new development violates a state "containment" policy that limits brothel activity.

Robert Hicks, president of the Kalgoorlie branch of the Australian Family Association, is preparing for further action if a dozen small rooms in construction plans are used not for a nostalgic look at prostitution but for modern-day practitioners.

"We don't agree that even contained prostitution should be supported," Hicks says. "It has adverse effects on the physical and spiritual health of individuals, on relationships, and the whole community."

The brothel museum retains the name Club 181, an establishment of the original prostitute belt of the "golden mile" of Kalgoorlie. Mary-Anne Kenworthy, the madam who now runs Club 181 from Perth, says the museum will boost tourism. It will contain paintings and photos of prostitutes' garments and situations. In addition, stables—the original, open-fronted shacklike rooms facing the street in which prostitutes displayed themselves—will be featured.

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