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Sex Worker Scapegoated; Beattie promotes discrimination 7 November 2005

In Queensland sex workers are protected from discrimination by anti-discrimination legislation. It is illegal to discriminate against a person because they are a sex worker. It is a breach of this Act to suggest that a person who works as a legal sex worker as well as a teacher should be prevented from doing so. Futhermore, the implication that a person working as a sex worker would have a negative impact on the children she teaches is in itself discrimination under this legislation.

Scarlet Alliance Media release

This is the second time the Queensland Government has been embroiled in what amounts to discrimination based on whether a person is a sex worker.

Last year an anti-discrimination case against the Department of Premier and Cabinet Office centred around a public servant who was allegedly asked to admit whether or not she had been a sex worker.

Now a Queensland teacher who apparently was also a sex worker has been the victim of harassment by the education system and is now being made a scapegoat for the micromanagement of Queensland teachers and public servants. The disclosure of her second job is being used as a smokescreen by the Beattie Government who wants to legislate greater controls over the private lives of teachers and public servants.

“The vilification of a teacher who also works as a sex worker is both unfounded and against the law,” Janelle Fawkes, spokesperson for Scarlet Alliance, the Australian Sex Workers Association said today. “Peter Beattie’s statements are a perpetuation of stereotypes that stigmatise sex workers. Sex workers in Queensland have the right to work without discrimination. Sex workers may also be qualified teachers, nurses, lawyers and doctors. As legal sex workers in Queensland, they have the right to employment in these fields the same as anyone else. The Premier must consider his comments about sex workers carefully. It is no longer acceptable to discriminate in this way and in fact it is against the law.”

Sex workers in Queensland have the right to work without discrimination in relation to other employment. While there has not been a specific test case, sex workers have taken claims of discrimination by employers to the Anti-Discrimination Commission and had them settled out of court.