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Sex Work Laws in Tasmania

Sex work in Tasmania is legal if NO MORE than two sex workers work together, however there are conditions.

  • Tasmania has criminalised brothels.

You can read the legislation to see the legal status of your work circumstance. Link to the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005

Alternatively you may contact Scarlet Alliance in Tasmania directly for information about the Sex Industry Offences Act. (contact details below)

Historically Tasmania has a heavily criminalised sex industry. And previous to the introduction of the current Sex Industry Offences Act in 2005 “prostitution” was dealt with under the police offences act and included crimes such as “running a bawdy house” and “living off the earnings of prostitution”.

Today, brothels and street-based sex work remain illegal. It is illegal to knowingly be a client of a sex worker working in a commercial sexual services business.

However, private sex work is legal and you are permitted to work from a hotel or residence.

Sex Workers

  • Are NOT CRIMINALISED in Tasmania.
  • A sexual services business is a business owned and operated by a single sex worker, or no more than two sex workers working in partnership, where neither employs nor manages the other worker. This type of business (referred to in the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005 as being a “self-employed sex worker”) is legal in Tasmania.
  • Police may arrest people whom they ‘reasonably consider’ to be illegally operating a commercial sexual service business. THE POLICE HAVE THE POWER TO ARREST WITHOUT A WARRANT when investigating non-compliance of the Act.
  • The Act protects a prosecution witness’s identity and evidence – This allows people to give information to the police WITHOUT the need to be identified. A person charged under the Act may not be able to find out what evidence the police have been given which may result in an inability to adequately represent oneself.
  • All street based sex work is criminalised.
  • The Act has reversed old "Living Off The Earning" clauses from the Tasmanian Criminal Code

Brothels:

  • A “commercial sexual services business” means a sexual services business operated or managed by a commercial operator. This also includes any instance where more than two sex workers, working together.
  • It is ILLEGAL to operate, own, manage or be in day-to-day control of a “commercial sexual services business”.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR INDIVIDUAL SEX WORKERS if you are a sex worker in a sexual services business and you also manage or are in day-to-day control of the work of other sex workers then you may be considered a commercial operator and therefore may be committing an offence.

  • Police may enter a "brothel" without a warrant in some circumstances.

Clients:

  • The legal status of a client of a sex worker in Tasmania depends on where the sex worker is working.
  • It is legal to be a client of a "self employed" sex worker.
  • It is illegal to knowingly be a client of a sex worker working in "a commercial sexual services business."
  • It is illegal to be a client of a person under the age of 18 who is working as a sex worker.
  • It is an offence for either a sex worker or a client to not use a prophylactic (condom, dam etc) during sexual intercourse or to misuse, damage or interfere with the use of a prophylactic.

Who are the players in 2009 law reform?

In November 2008 Scarlet Alliance lodged a Submission with the Tasmanian Attorney General Lara Giddings. Download the Submission. More recently both the Catholic church in Tasmania and Scarlet Alliance have lodged submissions with Minister Giddings. The outcomes are still being discussed. Link to media article on this subject.

Who were the players in 2005 law reform?

Who were the players for the brothel criminalisation in 2005? Link here to find out

Who runs sex worker peer education in Tasmania?

Tasmania remains the only Australian state or territory without funded sex worker peer education - something Scarlet Alliance has continually lobbied for.

In 2006 Scarlet Alliance established the Commonwealth funded CASH project in Hobart - we purposefully decided to locate part of this project in Tasmania because of the lack of a local sex worker organisation and we employed a project officer for 2 days a week. The CASH project took Scarlet Alliance on outreach throughout the industry and across the state and in contact with dozens of sex workers the project produced a targeted resource for sex workers in Tasmania.

In 2009 Scarlet Alliance run an interim sex worker peer education service. This service has continued in to 2010 and you can call them on (03) 6234 1242 or contact Scarlet Alliance in Sydney on (02) 9326 9455 for Tasmanian Peer support mobile telephone numbers.

Updated 5 June 2009