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Joint Media Release, Scarlet Alliance, SWOP, ACT & AIDS Action Council

Sex workers welcome changes to the sex work regulations in the ACT.

Today the ACT Government have introduced amendments to the Prostitution Act 1992. The changes have been welcomed by sex workers and advocates as a key step towards the recognition of sex work as work and in reducing stigma and discrimination against sex workers. Lex Jury, coordinator of ACT’s peer sex worker organisation, SWOP ACT states, “SWOP ACT welcomes the reforms being tabled in the Legislative Assembly. We are very supportive of the changes being proposed. This bill is about safe sex practices and safe workplaces for sex workers. It is about consistent treatment of all sex workers. The rights of HIV-positive sex workers is one small part of broader, long overdue reform.”

The Prostitution Bill 2018 renames the Act to the Sex work Act 1992 with “prostitution” and “prostitute” replaced with “sex work” and “sex worker” throughout the legislation. CEO of Scarlet Alliance, Jules Kim explains, “Sex work is work and terminology is important in affirming this. By removing outdated and stigmatising language and replacing it with sex work and sex worker, the government is recognising our work as work. Sex work is a gender neutral, inclusive term that recognises the diversity of our work and workers.” Significantly the requirements for sex worker sole operators to register has been removed. Requiring sex workers to register is harmful and has long lasting impacts on sex workers, even after they have left the sex industry. “Registration brands a sex worker for life. Due to the inconsistency of laws around sex work which vary state by state and the pervasive stigma and discrimination against us, registration creates real barriers for sex workers. This is a very welcome step by the government in removing the need for sole operators to register as ‘sole operator brothel’ or ‘escort agency’.”

The legislation will now require operators of brothels and escort agencies to provide safety and personal protective equipment, including condoms, free of charge to their employees. The removal the discriminatory restrictions against people with HIV or STI’s from receiving or providing sexual services provided they take precautions to prevent transmission is a welcome change that is supported by current evidence. AIDS Action Council, CEO Philippa Moss states, “Condoms, safe sex practices and effective combination anti-retroviral treatment of HIV prevent transmission. This change also recognises that sex workers offer a range of professional services which do not include a risk of transmission.” While sex workers and advocates welcome the changes, they hope the reform will lead to momentum around the full decriminalisation of sex work in the ACT which has been proven to provide optimal health, safety and rights for sex workers and communities. “Scarlet Alliance, the AIDS Action Council and SWOP ACT will continue to advocate for decriminalisation because this is the platform that provides best practice for sex workers, their clients and the community.”

FOR MEDIA COMMENT:

Jules Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association
M: 0411 985 135 | E: ceo@scarletalliance.org.au

Philippa Moss, Executive Director, AIDS Action Council of ACT
M: 0418 191 967 | E: philippa.moss@aidsaction.org.au