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Archive for March 27th, 2023

Liz Brown recently published a roundup of efforts in various states to change prostitution laws, four of them for the better and two for the mostly-worse.  Liz covers the developments with her usual thoroughness so the article is well worth reading in its entirety, but since there are several tags tracking these legal maneuvers, it doesn’t hurt to synopsize them here (along with a few comments of my own, and links to earlier stories about prostitution law changes in those states).

Hawaii

Senate Bill 1204…introduced by state Sen. Carol Fukunaga…would repeal a section of Hawaii law criminalizing prostitution…and a section criminalizing “commercial sexual exploitation”…It would also repeal laws that criminalize “promoting prostitution,” “loitering for the purpose of engaging in or advancing prostitution,” “promoting travel for prostitution,” “street prostitution,” and soliciting prostitution near schools or parks…Another measure introduced by Fukunaga…would establish a working group to “study the effects of New Zealand’s model of decriminalizing prostitution on sex workers, their clients, and the broader community”…and “make recommendations for amending Hawaii laws to decriminalize prostitution”…

New York

…Julia Salazar[‘s]…S4396…has attracted eight co-sponsors so far…[it] would repeal all parts of state penal law “that make sex work between consenting adults illegal”…[and] also repeal other statutes related to consensual adult prostitution…

Unfortunately, there is a competing Swedish model bill sponsored by prohibitionist Liz Krueger which would treat sex workers as moral imbeciles and target their partners, friends, co-workers and families for persecution, and the governor has held discussions with its supporters.

Rhode Island

House Bill 6064 was introduced on March 3 and…would allow sex workers to come forward about crimes they witnessed or were victimized by without worrying that police would then arrest them for prostitution…or “procuring or attempting to procure sexual conduct for the payment of a fee,” loitering for prostitution, “soliciting from motor vehicles for indecent purposes,” or practicing massage without a license…

I’m not especially impressed with laws like this, one of which was recently passed in California.  But there are also re-decriminalization efforts going on in the state.

Vermont

H.372…has attracted 14 sponsors…and…would repeal the part of Vermont’s criminal code that outlaws engaging in prostitution, soliciting someone for prostitution, aiding and abetting prostitution, and related activities (such as permitting a place to be used for lewdness or prostitution and transporting someone to a place where they will engage in prostitution)…

Vermont’s current law actually defines all extramarital sex as “prostitution”, whether or not money is exchanged.

Massachusetts

[Prohibitionist filth] Kay Khan…[is once again trying to] implement what’s known as the Nordic model of sex work laws, in which paying for sex is illegal but selling sex (at least under some circumstances) is not.  The Nordic model…[i]s not recommended by human rights, health, or sex worker advocacy groups, since continuing to criminalize prostitution clients keeps the industry underground and leaves in place most of the harms presented by full criminalization.  A recent study of sex work law changes in Europe  found that…the Nordic model [is] associated with higher rape rates…

Tennessee

[Politicians] Page Walley…and…John Ragan…have introduced measures (H.B. 1383 and S.B. 0182), [basically similar to the one on offer in Rhode Island, with an important difference: they]…would also institute heftier penalties for people paying or attempting to pay for sex.  Right now, the crime of “patronizing prostitution” in Tennessee is already a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.  The…[new] law…would make patronizing prostitution a Class E felony, punishable by one to six years in prison and up to $3,000 in fines.  Increasing…penalties for…customers doesn’t stop prostitution.  But it may make customers more reluctant to engage in screening…and…other conditions that could increase sex worker safety, out of fear that doing so will leave a paper trail or otherwise make them more vulnerable to arrest…

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