‘Illogical laws’: Sex workers and allies rally for decriminalisation in Queensland


Respect Inc decriminalisation rally
Photo: Respect Inc

Queensland sex workers are inviting friends, family, and allies from the LGBTIQ community to join them in calling for urgent action by the Queensland government on laws putting sex workers at risk in the state.

This Sunday is International Sex Worker Rights Day, and on Monday (March 4), advocacy group Respect Inc are holding the #DecrimQLD rally in Brisbane’s King George Square on Monday from 1pm.

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Rob is one of the original Mardi Gras 78ers, a gay male sex worker and chairman of Respect Inc. He told QN Magazine that sex workers are part of the LGBTIQ community.

“Some of us from Queensland were there at the [original 1978 Mardi Gras march]. History shows us that laws are used against those of us that can be singled out because of our sexuality,” he said.

“The sex work laws are no different. In fact male, trans and non-binary sex workers are highly disadvantaged by the laws in Queensland.

“There are no legal brothels that employ us and escort agencies are not legal.

“These laws are also bad for LGBTIQ people living with a disability. When you have a disability your desire to be sexual, to touch and be touched, doesn’t stop.

“But if a carer or a family member is to organise a sex worker they are at risk of being charged under these illogical laws. Why would something as important to people’s health and wellbeing be criminalised?”

Sex workers are permitted to work in a licensed brothel in Queensland, or privately, but it is an offence to work in pairs or with the support of another person. There are also strict advertising guidelines for sex workers in Queensland.

The report of a sex work laws and workplace health and safety symposium held at Parliament House in November noted that, “The laws in Queensland make essential safe working practices illegal (working in pairs, texting each other when clients leave, hiring a receptionist, helping each other with advertisements etc., using a driver another sex worker uses). Police statistics show charges against sex workers are increasing.”

Trans sex worker and activist Elle Coles said, “At a time when the LGBTIQ community is finding its place within broader community, the sex work laws in Queensland are unraveling the ways we have protected and supported each other for decades.

“They get in the way of our most trusted adopted families being are able to support us when we need it most.

“Trans sex workers have created our own families, supporting each other, and we want laws that allow us to work with confidence so we can protect our safely.

“That’s why we are calling for decriminalisation of sex work.

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“While laws criminalise sex worker safety in Queensland we are unable to report crimes or harassment to police. Once we are known to police as sex workers we risk being charged.”

To find out more about the DecrimQLD action, check out the Facebook event here.