Preliminary submission to the review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)

Despite sex work being largely decriminalised in New South Wales since 1995, sex workers across the state experience stigma, discrimination and vilification from members of the general public, media,
private organisations, law enforcement, and government service and agencies. Entrenched stigma and discrimination, historic criminalisation and a lack of consistent and comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-vilification protections for sex workers have meant that sex workers throughout Australia are treated as ‘easy targets’ for vilification, both as individuals and collectively.

This is a preliminary submission highlighting issues of concern for sex workers within the Review’s terms of reference, and does not contain detailed arguments or specific recommendations. We hope that this short submission provides useful background on the impacts of discrimination and vilification for sex workers in New South Wales, and we look forward to engaging with the Commission as the Review progresses.

Our experience demonstrates that specifically naming ‘sex work’ and ‘sex worker’ as protected attributes is the best model to ensure that sex workers can access anti-discrimination protections, and to acknowledge the historical and contemporary marginalisation, criminalisation, and stigma sex workers experience. This approach was favoured by the Northern Territory in its review of anti-discrimination legislation, where it became the first jurisdiction in the world to specifically protect sex workers from discrimination.