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OPEN LETTER . . . OPEN LETTER . . . OPEN LETTER . . . OPEN LETTER
As LGBTQ sex workers and allies we are asking for support for the decriminalisation of prostitution – consenting sex where payment is involved.
‘The freedom of two people to have sexual contact with each other has historically been denied to people of different races and classes, and to people of the same gender. This freedom is still denied to people when payment is involved. Why should two adults who want to have consensual sexual contact with each other in private not be able to do so?’
Tim Barnett, former New Zealand MP
Gay sex was partially decriminalised in 1967 in England and Wales, 1980 in Scotland, and 1982 in N. Ireland. While it is now fully decriminalised, the criminalisation of sex work has increased. Those promoting its criminalisation include homophobic ‘evangelical Christians’who oppose gay marriage, any sex outside marriage, and abortion.
Proposals to criminalise sex workers’ clients were recently defeated in Scotland and Ireland. But they still being pursued by All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for England and Wales; the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill in the North of Ireland; the European Women’s Lobby and a number of European countries including France. The notoriously anti-gay, Christian charity, CARE, and other fundamentalist religious groups are promoting criminalisation as part of their moralistic agenda (see below).
While these proposals claim to target clients and traffickers (based on false claims about trafficking) sex workers will be the first affected. Forced to work and live underground, denied protection by police and courts, we face higher levels of violence and exploitation. While rapists and other violent men are allowed to get away, non-violent clients – gay and straight, engaged in consensual casual sex for payment – are being targeted. We must stop this fundamentalist witch-hunt.
Sex workers are (mostly) women, trans people and men who make a living by providing sexual services – a skilled but maligned job. If we want to leave prostitution, there are few or no jobs to go to, or they pay too little to make ends meet, or we are blocked from them by our ‘criminal record’ or our immigration status. With rising unemployment and benefit cuts, the number of sex workers is up and so is the number of women and men in jail for prostitution related offences.
Tim Barnett, a gay man and former New Zealand MP who sponsored the 2003 Prostitution Reform Act which decriminalised prostitution, described the discriminatory way in which the laws were used against LGBTQ people and people of colour:
‘Soliciting figures showed that half of those arrested were transgender sex workers who were identified as men, showing that the homophobia of the police was driving their enforcement of anti sex work laws. Racism was also evident in that two-thirds of the women arrested were Maori and other people of colour.’
In the UK, it was Maureen Colquhoun, the first openly lesbian MP, who proposed the decriminalisation of sex work back in 1979.[i]
We urge LGBTQ organisations and others to support the movement to throw off ‘the last significant vestige of Victorian moral law’ by signing the pledge below and forwarding this information to your networks. We would be glad to work with you against this repressive proposal.
Sign on-line: http://prostitutescollective.net/2013/09/09/3171/
Evidence of homophobic religious groups promoting
· CARE campaigns ferociously against gay marriage and its director is on the board of the Coalition for Marriage. It campaigned against the repeal of Section 28[ii], which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools. In 2009, CARE sponsored a London conference which included sessions on ‘mentoring the sexually broken’.[iii] Co-organisers of that conference have hosted evangelical Christians who speak on ‘The Lepers Among Us: Homosexuality and the Life of the Church’
[i] Protection of Prostitutes Bill.