Sex workers in South Australia and throughout Australia are heartbroken after the Members of the House of Assembly turned their backs on the rights and safety of sex workers in SA, despite widespread community support for decriminalisation of sex work.
The long awaited and widely claimed SA Decriminalisation of Sex Work Bill 2018 was narrowly defeated in the 2nd reading of the Lower House by just 5 votes. Nineteen members voted to pass the Bill and twenty four votes against.
On 31 May 2019, the Sex Industry Network (SIN) will gather at Parliament House to rally for the decriminalisation of the South Australian sex industry and to recognise International Sex Workers Day.
In South Australia sex work is criminalised, prohibiting sex work so that those engaging in relevant activities can be prosecuted for criminal offences. SIN and Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) advocate for decriminalisation which is seen as a best practice model by sex workers and community-based organisations.
In a recent statement SIN said:
“Sex work is skilled labour. We deserve the same industrial protections as any other worker in South Australia and, currently, what sets us apart is the criminalisation of the industry within which we CHOOSE to work.”
Natasha Miliotis, Chief Executive of SHINE SA said:
“We support the work of SIN and their advocacy for the decriminalisation of sex work in SA.
Amnesty International, the United Nations and the World Health Organization have all called for the full decriminalisation of consensual sex work as the scientific evidence is now clear – criminalisation itself leads to harm¹.
From a public health perspective decriminalisation is important to not only reduce stigma and discrimination, but to improve the health and safety of workers, clients and the broader community².”
For more information on SIN’s celebration of International Sex Workers Day and the rally for the decriminalisation of the South Australian sex industry visit www.sin.org.au.
The Sex Industry Network will rally outside parliament on Friday for International Sex Workers Day after Greens MLC Tammy Franks earlier this month introduced new legislation to legalise sex work in state.
The Legislative Council passed a similar bill in July last year however it failed to pass the lower house before the March election.
Queensland sex workers say they face a dilemma — break the law to stay safe, or obey it and put their lives at risk.
Chrissie (whose last name is withheld) has been working as a fly-in, fly-out sex worker in regional Queensland for the past eight years and is one of many sex workers along with organisation Respect calling for a law change.
“I can’t think of any other occupation where you are prohibited from telling anyone where you are going for your own safety,” she said.
There are only two places in the world where sex work is fully decriminalised: New Zealand and New South Wales. Everywhere else in Australia, it is partially criminalised, even though many of the concerns raised about sex work by the general public or by legislators are already addressed by existing legislation: there are laws for disturbing the peace, there are noise curfews, laws regarding indecent exposure.
Most sex workers carefully guard their privacy and are cautious about outsiders knowing what they do. People who have done sex work will keep their history secret so as not to be defined by it once they’ve moved on. Sex workers with children can find the fact of their occupation used against them in custody battles.
Faced with those risks, many sex workers resist the regulation and therefore work outside the law. That has important legal, health and safety impacts.