Queensland to decriminalise all forms of sex work

queensland decriminalise decriminalisation of sex work

Over two decades of advocacy has paid off for Queensland sex workers with the state government introducing legislation to parliament Thursday to finally decriminalise all forms of sex work.

Queensland currently allows two forms of legalised sex work – services provided at licensed brothels or by sole operators. The law defines sole operators as persons working alone from a premise, providing in-house calls, outcall services, or both.

All other forms of sex work remain illegal including escort agencies, unlicensed brothels, massage parlours, street workers who publicly solicit and sex workers working in small groups.

Current laws endanger sex workers

Sex worker group DecrimQLD has long advocated for the decriminalisation of sex work in the state. Current laws endanger sex workers and ban them from normal workplace protections and rights available to all other Queensland workers.

DecrimQLD says under decriminalisation:

  • Safety strategies will be decriminalised.
  • Sex workers will be able to work together.
  • Workplace Health & Safety guidelines will be developed and will apply like all other workplaces.
  • Industrial rights will be accessible to sex workers for the first time.
  • Anti-discrimination protections for sex workers will be strengthened.

The Queensland government previously committed to decriminalisation of the industry following a review by the independent Law Reform Commission.

On Thursday, Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath finally introduced legislation to parliament proposing the decriminalisation of sex work in the state.

She told parliament sex workers should not have to choose between working safely or legally.

“Feedback from the industry has been that current laws criminalise safety strategies used by sex workers.

“The proposed reforms to decriminalise the sex work industry will put in place proper regulation, so the industry doesn’t have to choose between working safely or legally.”

Decriminalising Sex Work and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024

The proposed legislation will first go to committee before facing a vote later in the year.

With an election due, the opposition LNP can be predicted to oppose the bill. Des Houghton, the ‘things were so much better back in Queen Victoria’s day’ writer for the local Courier-Mail, penned a column last year informing Queenslanders that street prostitution would soon become a free-for-all under Labor.

“How would you feel about a sex worker setting up shop near your church or children’s school?”

The longtime LNP supporter predicted the opposition would support the Nordic model of prostitution law which describes prostitution as a form of violence against women, incompatible with women’s equality.

The long road to decriminalisation

2019: ‘Illogical laws’: Sex workers and allies rally for decriminalisation.

2020: International Sex Worker Rights Day: Stop the Raids.

2021: Sex workers welcome Queensland decriminalisation review.

2023: Queensland to finally decriminalise and regulate sex work.


Sex Worker Health and Safety.

sex worker health and safety
Image: Destiny Rogers

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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1 Comment

  1. Dr Wendell Rosevear O.A.M.
    19 February 2024

    We need to Decriminalize Sex Work to end Police Entrapment. For years undercover Police have asked for a “Double Massage with a happy ending” and entrapped my Patients who were working as sole operators but called in a second person only to then both be arrested. I want all people to be valued and honest choices to be respected to have a Safer Society.

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