Sex workers welcome Queensland decriminalisation review

Queensland decriminalisation review
Image: RespectQld Twitter

Queensland and Australian sex worker organisations today welcomed the impending Queensland decriminalisation review of state sex work laws. State Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman earlier announced a review of current laws by the Queensland Law Reform Commission. She said the Commission will advise on improving the health, safety, human rights and also legal protections of sex workers across the state.

Sex worker spokesperson Elle Coles told QNews the review will hopefully result in sex workers enjoying the same workplace health and safety provisions other Queensland workers take for granted.

In a joint statement, Respect Inc, DecrimQLD and Scarlet Alliance committed to ensuring the Commission hears the voices of everyone who undertakes sex work in Queensland.

Queensland decriminalisation review

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman earlier today described the safety of sex workers as a key focus of the review.

“We need to ensure appropriate and modern laws are in place for the industry and its associated safe working arrangements, and that these are also in the best interests of the community.

“The review will consider how best to provide appropriate safeguards to protect sex workers.

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

“A key focus of this review is the safety of workers and putting in place proper regulation so the industry doesn’t operate in the shadows.

“Sex workers shouldn’t have to choose between working legally and being safe at work.”

Dr Elena Jeffreys, the State Coordinator of Respect Inc, described the current laws as harmful to sex workers.

“This is an opportunity for Queensland to provide sex workers the same rights and protections as other workers.”

Criminalising safety and entrapment

Queensland’s current law allows two forms of sex work. Sex workers can seek employment at one of the state’s 21 licensed brothels. Alternatively, they can work as a sole operator under conditions that criminalise most common-sense safety strategies. Unlike any other Queensland worker, sex workers can not alert another sex worker to their location. Nor can they check in with a friend at the end of a booking. They cannot work in pairs, allow a friend to drive them to a booking or hire a receptionist to screen bookings.

The law also allows police to pose as clients and ask sex workers to undertake illegal activities. Those entrapment operations result in criminal convictions for sex workers who employ safety strategies encouraged in any other business.

Janelle Fawkes from DecrimQLD said more than 30 Queensland and national organisations supported recent calls for decriminalisation.

“Sex workers in Queensland have waited a long time for the decriminalisation of sex work. We will work to ensure the review hears the voices of sex workers, the key stakeholders in this discussion.”

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