Sex Workers Rights

SWOPcast With Phoenix Calida 6/6/19

As Prostitution-Related Charges Double In D.C., Lawmakers Are Reintroducing A Sex Work Decriminalization Bill

Safe Night Access Project in Seattle volunteers show some of the products they give away to sex workers and other people who ask for as part of providing harm reduction services along a north Seattle strip known for prostitution.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A bill that would decriminalize sex work in Washington D.C. will be reintroduced at the D.C. Council on Tuesday, this time with four councilmembers in support.

As drafted, the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 would “remove certain criminal penalties for engaging in sex work in order to promote public health and safety.” It does not include any measures that would create red light districts in D.C. or otherwise regulate sex work. Coercing people to engage in sex work against their will would still be illegal, as would human and child trafficking.

At-large Councilmembers David Grosso and Robert White, who co-introduced a similar measure in 2017, are now joined by At-large Councilmember Anita Bonds and Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, as jurisdictions across the country are seeing sex work decriminalization movements gain steam. Last term, the original bill was sent to the Judiciary Committee, where it never got a hearing.

 

We Asked All The 2020 Candidates If The US Should Stop Arresting Sex Workers. Only Four Said Yes.

LGBT, immigrant rights, harm reduction, and criminal justice reform groups, led by people who trade sex, launched the coalition Decrim NY, made up of 20-plus organizations, to decriminalize and decarcerate sex trade in New York state.
Pacific Press / Getty Images

LGBT, immigrant rights, harm reduction, and criminal justice reform groups, led by people who trade sex, launched the coalition Decrim NY, made up of 20-plus organizations, to decriminalize and decarcerate sex trade in New York state.

Sex work is considered the oldest profession in the world, but lots of candidates running for president in 2020 act like it’s a new issue — and they’re unprepared to talk about it.

Given recent efforts to decriminalize sex work in state legislatures and debates in Congress about the ramifications of some anti-trafficking laws on sex workers, BuzzFeed News asked all the 2020 presidential candidates, including President Donald Trump, to lay out their stance. We asked:

  • Do you think sex work should be decriminalized?
  • If so, what changes do you support on the federal level?

Some candidates took clear positions in support of decriminalization, like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Cory Booker, who told BuzzFeed News unequivocally, “Yes, sex work should be decriminalized.”

Sens. Booker and Harris who support decriminalization for sex workers.
Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

Sens. Booker and Harris who support decriminalization for sex workers.

Sen. Kamala Harris supports decriminalization for sex workers, as does Rep. Seth Moulton (though he has a caveat — he wants to maintain strict penalties for people who solicit prostitution; Harris did not address solicitors). Former senator Mike Gravel, who initially said he was running not to win but rather to try to get different views onto the debate stage, also supports decriminalization.

On the other hand, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stuck by his view that sex workers should be arrested.