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Sometimes prostitution laws are used against people who are not engaged in prostitution. This has been happening in gay porn shops around New
York, and we applaud the lawsuit against our city regarding these false
arrests. Read the back story here.
Duncan Osborne, a reporter for Gay City News, implies here that the police do not care about arresting “real” prostitutes. The idea is that “real” prostitutes tend to be younger than the men who were falsely arrested, as eight of the 12 arrested were between 42 and 54. If that’s all he takes away from the persecution of gay men, that’s really too bad.
People who sell sex do not always conform to ageist stereotypes!
We invite you to read his blog and comment politely on any disagreements you may have with his approach.
Some New York history is in order. Arlene Carmen of Judson Memorial Church was falsely arrested for prostitution in 1978. Although she went to court over this, Arlene spoke out explicitly against prostitution laws. She was always a friend to prostitutes.
Because of Arlene’s activism, PONY and others have continued to host events at Judson Church over the years. When PONY’s former president Iris de la Cruz died, her memorial service was held at Judson. Many of our members have never met Arlene, and some have not heard about her, but she is the reason we feel at home there.
What a difference there is between those who call their group “Stop the False Arrests” and Arlene Carmen who always said: “Change the laws!”
Here is the Times obit for Arlene.
A MORE IMPORTANT ISSUE: Prostitution laws are often applied falsely to prostitutes and other sex workers. You may have a prostitution record (or be in sex work without a police record) and still be caught up in a sweep when you’re not actively soliciting. You may be falsely charged with “promoting” when your workplace is raided – even if you are not a manager/madam/booker.
False arrests happen to sex workers every day. So, good luck to the falsely arrested men in this case, but let’s continue to raise awareness about the larger injustice.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN falsely arrested in New York, contact the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center for legal assistance and advice: http://www.sexworkersproject.org
The Sex Workers Project offers legal help to people who may be profiled as sex workers, no matter their situation. You can also send an email to PONY@panix.com with “SWP” in the subject line and we will refer you.
Stop the arrests! Repeal the prostitution laws!