Sex work decriminalisation defeated

Issue 

Sex work decriminalisation defeated

By Penny Saunders

ADELAIDE — The Brindal bills to decriminalise prostitution were defeated in the SA parliament on July 27, by a vote of 16-28.

Sex workers will continue their campaign for progressive law reform. Mark Brindal may re-present decriminalisation legislation later this year, and other MPs have also shown interest in decriminalising prostitution.

The campaign for decriminalisation has proved a valuable political experience for South Australian sex workers. Sex worker rights organisations and other groups organised two public rallies in front of Parliament House, which were attended by sex workers and their supporters. They faxed, telephoned and lobbied members of parliament, more than 100 clients sent letters to their MPs, petitions were circulated, and the sex industry presented a united, positive image to the local media.

The bills, based on ACT legislation, would remove all criminal sanctions over sex work, whilst introducing specific controls to prevent child prostitution and to maintain public health.

Sex industry workers maintain that their working lives would be fundamentally improved by decriminalisation. The present system of law allows police to harass prostitutes, enables safe sex materials and "tools" such as condoms to be used as evidence in the courts and marginalises sex industry workers from mainstream health, financial and support services.

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