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Media Release "Sex Workers call on South Australian Government to Decriminalise Sex Work" 5th June 2013, Adelaide

Sex workers and supporters are rallying on Wednesday 5 June in the week of International Whores Day to call upon the South Australian Government to decriminalise sex work.

Sex Workers call on South Australian Government to decriminalise sex work

Sex workers and supporters are rallying today, in the week of International Whores Day to call upon theSouth Australian Government to decriminalise sex work.

The rally will be held at Parliament house today at 12.30pm and speakers include:

  • Hon. Tammy Franks, Greens member of the Legislative Council
  • Janelle Fawkes, CEO of Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association
  • Margy, a local sex worker and representative of SIN, the South Australian Sex Industry Network
  • Tarkwin Coles, President, SWAGGERR Sex Worker Action Group Gaining Empowerment Rights &Recognition

Sex workers are rallying to demand the decriminalisation of sex work in South Australia.

Sex workers call on South Australian parliamentarians to support the Statutes Amendment(Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill 2013 introduced by Hon Stephanie Key, Member for Ashford. The Bill seeks to decriminalise all forms of sex work for people over 18, include sex work in anti-discrimination protections and ensure existing sex work related convictions are wiped from peoples’ records.

Janelle Fawkes, CEO said ‘Seventeen years of decriminalisation in New South Wales demonstrates improved worksafety, high rates of safer sex practice, low rates of sexually transmissible infections, little to no amenityimpacts and no evidence of organised crime’.The Bill is due to be voted on by MPs in the lower house following its second reading on 19 July 2013, andsex workers are holding the Government accountable to ensure it introduces the model of regulation provento deliver strong human rights outcomes for sex workers - decriminalisation.

Steph Key said ‘I've been supported to continue with my Bill to decriminalise Sex Work by many people inthe Social Welfare, Care, Disability and Aged areas. Even some members of the Faith Communities haveindicated that while not condoning sex work they understand the need for reform.’

Hon. Tammy Franks states she ‘looks forward to supporting the Steph Key bill when it comes to be debated in the parliament.’Franks states ‘Our state laws are hopelessly out of date and out of step with the realities of sex work in our current society.’ Sex work is currently criminalised in South Australia under laws contained in the Summary Offences Act 1953 and the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935.

Steph Key said today, ‘I am heartened by the fact that people all around South Australia - particularly from rural and remote places want change.’ Currently sex workers in South Australia work in fear of the police, without industrial or OHS protections and are often forced to prioritise avoiding detection over utilising safety strategies. Current laws put sex workers’ health and safety at risk.

Margy, a local sex worker and representative of SIN says that ‘spent convictions and anti-discrimination protections for past and present sex workers reduce the impactof stigma. Decriminalisation allows me to work safely.’

Tarkwin Coles, President, SWAGGERR said ‘Numerous governments over the last three decades have commissioned enquiries into the sex industry and how to address the concerns of all South Australians. Each time they come back with recommendations that the current laws are not working and need to bechanged. The problem has always been in what way should they be changed - now that New Zealand andthe New South Wales government have embraced decriminalisation and have had much success with thisapproach that question has been answered. SWAGGERR calls upon the South Australian government topass this Bill and allow sex workers and the broader community the human rights health and safety theynot only require but deserve.’

Sex workers worldwide are calling for decriminalisation.

The 2012 United Nations report on Sex work in Asia Pacific calls for review of criminal laws: ‘To enable sex workers to fully enjoy legal rights to health and safetyat work requires decriminalisation’.

Fawkes said ‘South Australia is in a position to implement the world’s best practice model’, as recommended by UNAIDS, UNFPA and UNDP.

Franks states, ‘We need urgent reform, a true decriminalisation model as they have had in New Zealand for a decade.'