Scarlet News:

Scarlet Alliance “Anti-sex work laws deemed unconstitutional” 21 June 2013

Jun 21, 2013 | Media release, News

Australian sex workers welcome US Supreme Court decision. Sex workers in Australia are celebrating last night’s decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court, which struck down the notorious anti-sex work pledge for HIV/AIDS prevention organisations.

Janelle Fawkes, CEO of Scarlet Alliance the Australian Sex Workers Association, says "This is a long-awaited shift in US policy, which will be welcomed by sex workers and sex worker organisations allaround the world."

"Scarlet Alliance recognises the important work of sex workers and partner organisations in challenging this oppressive, retrograde and unconstitutional policy."

The 2003 pledge, originally introduced as a National Security Presidential Directive by George W Bush, meant that any organisation receiving funding for HIV prevention through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief must explicitly oppose sex work.

The pledge "eliminated organisations from funding who do important health promotion work, including sex worker organisations. It also excluded sex worker Civil Society organisations fromplaying a central role in their country’s response to HIV – seriously reducing the effectiveness of HIVprevention efforts."

Fawkes says the experience in Australia demonstrates the success of sex worker involvement in HIV prevention: "Australia’s National Strategies on HIV and STIs note that the incidence of HIV/STIs in sex workers in Australia is exceptionally low. This is a result of sex worker peer education, delivered by sex worker community based organisations, and sex workers implementing safer sex practices withour clients."

"Strong partnerships between government and sex workers have been at the forefront of Australia’sresponse to HIV prevention. The longstanding success of this approach illustrates that including sex workers as partners in HIV prevention work is imperative."

"Underpinning the pledge has been enormous pressure from the United States for other countries tocriminalise sex work. We hope this decision signals a policy shift in the United States approach to sexwork legislation, in line with evidence demonstrating that decriminalisation is best practice andfundamental to sex worker human rights, occupational health and safety and HIV prevention."