Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman says the state will bring the sex industry “out of the dark” and regulate sex work to improve workers’ safety.
On March 31, the Attorney-General received an independent Queensland Law Reform Commission report on decriminalisation with 47 recommendations.
Shannon Fentiman says the government is working through the report. But she has pledged to overhaul the laws and broadly supported decriminalisation.
“Current laws stigmatise sex workers, it increases their vulnerability to exploitation and violence,” Shannon Fentiman told Seven News.
“We are putting in place a regulatory framework to make sure the industry is regulated.
“No worker should have to choose between working safely and working legally, including our sex workers.”
‘Life-changing’ policy shift
Advocacy groups DecrimQLD, Respect Inc and Scarlet Alliance welcomed the Attorney-General’s announcement.
Queensland has 20 licensed brothels, however most sex work occurs outside the regulated or licensed sector.
Advocates warn the state’s current laws criminalise safety strategies. Sex workers can’t work in pairs, check in with colleagues, work with someone for security, or employ someone to screen or book clients.
This leaves the vast majority of Queensland’s sex workers at risk of police entrapment, raids, charges and fines for basic safety strategies.
Respect Inc Queensland coordinator Lulu Holiday said decriminalisation would be a “life-changing policy shift” to Queensland’s sex workers.
“Sex work is work and laws that criminalise sex work workplaces and our safety strategies diminish our ability to work safely or legally,” Lulu Holiday said.
“While decriminalisation will be a life changing policy shift for sex workers and our families because we’ll no longer be criminalised, the rest of Queensland thinks it has already happened and will probably not even notice it has changed.”
Advocates said decriminalisation would bring Queensland into line with domestic and international best practice.
In Australia, Victoria decriminalised sex work in 2022, after New South Wales in 1995 and the Northern Territory in 2019.
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