Scarlet News:

Sex workers welcome WHS protections over criminal penalties

Feb 20, 2024 | Media release, News

DecrimQLD, Respect Inc and Scarlet Alliance welcome the introduction of the Criminal Code (Decriminalising Sex Work) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 today. We congratulate the Miles Government and Attorney-General Hon. Yvette D’Ath for progressing this essential reform.

“We congratulate the Miles Government for this essential reform. We look forward to a well regulated industry where Workplace Health and Safety applies to every workplace and sex workers have access to industrial rights,” said Janelle Fawkes, DecrimQLD spokesperson.

The Bill progresses recommendations from the independent review by the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) referred in 2021 by then Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman. Recommendations include repeal of the current criminal approach and regulating sex work as work.

“Sex work is work and laws that criminalise sex work workplaces and our safety strategies diminish our ability to work safely or legally. While decriminalisation will be a life changing policy shift for sex workers and our families because we will no longer be criminalised, the rest of Queensland thinks it has already happened and will probably not even notice it has changed,” said Lulu Holiday, State Coordinator, Respect Inc.

The Bill repeals sex work and sex industry specific criminal laws but it is not ‘de-regulation.’ Repeal of these criminal laws allows for the same laws and regulations that apply to all businesses to apply to the sex industry. WHS is a good example. The WHS regulator currently has no role in relation to sex industry workplaces, sex workers want WHS guidelines that apply to every workplace. Decriminalisation is the path to fair and equal regulation.

“The tabling of this Bill brings Queensland in line with domestic and international best practice. Decriminalisation is a cost effective, high compliance model for government and supports workplace health, safety and rights for sex workers,” said Mish Pony CEO, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association.

“Reforms like this bring about changes in community attitudes that break down the stigma and discrimination that sex workers face every day, including when accessing essential services,” said Lulu Holiday, State Coordinator, Respect Inc.

For comment contact: Janelle Fawkes, DecrimQLD spokesperson, 0491 228 509