Queensland Sex Workers and allies rallied on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on the issue of sex worker safety. The rally remembered sex worker lives lost to violence and recognised that sex workers still needlessly experience violence today.
Community leaders and sex workers addressed Tuesday’s rally in Centenary Place Park.
Candi Forrest, a founding member of Respect Inc and committee member of DecrimQld, spoke on the impact of current Queensland laws on sex worker safety.
“Criminalisation results in incarceration, fines and debt cycles, deportation and prevents sex workers from reporting crime and seeking justice.
“Sex workers in Queensland are unnecessarily placed at risk of violence by the criminalisation of our safety strategies.”
“Stop criminalisation of sex worker safety in Queensland”
Trans sex worker Elyse Coles explained that police peruse sex worker advertising and take advantage of any prohibited wording to mount undercover stings.
Already, in October and November of this year, more than thirty Queensland sex workers faced prosecution for prostitution offences. Further, police statistics show a 450% increase in charges.
Elyse said we must, “Stop criminalisation of sex worker safety in Queensland.”
Once the police gain access to a sex worker’s phone, they look for evidence of any communication with other workers.
As Candi Forrest told the rally, the law targets basic sex worker safety strategies. It is illegal for a sex worker to let another sex worker know when a client arrives or leaves. Further, sex workers risk prosecution for messaging another sex worker their current location.
Those laws enable violence against sex workers.
Michael Clifford, General Secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions said, “There is an urgency to this issue. We need to re-double our efforts to achieve decriminalisation of sex work in Queensland.”
Urgent action required on sex worker safety
Janelle Fawkes, DecrimQld campaign leader, called on the government to act swiftly to enable sex workers to utilise basic safety strategies and also to stop police posing as clients to entrap sex workers.
Eva from DecrimQld said, “Decriminalisation will remove sex work from the Criminal Code and also remove police from their role regulating sex work.
However, it is not deregulation. It means that sex industry businesses will be regulated in the same way as any business is. It means the regulations and rights not currently applied to sex work and our workplaces will apply like at any other business. Like any other worker, sex workers will have occupational health and safety and industrial rights.”
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