Sex work will be decriminalised across Queensland, the state Government announced today.
It came after an independent commission found that decriminalising sex businesses would reduce stigma and safeguard workers’ rights.
The commission recommended that these businesses be given the same treatment as other lawful businesses.
What is the proposal to decriminalise sex work in Queensland?
The Queensland Law Reform Commission, which delivered its report to the Government last month, suggested a new framework that would decriminalise sex work.
Under this proposal, sex-work-specific offences around consensual adult sex would be removed.
It also abolishes a licensing scheme that is needed to run brothels. Significant penalties for coercion or the involvement of children will still apply.
What’s the rationale to decriminalise sex work in Queensland?
The Commission said that current laws stigmatised sex workers, and created barriers to basic health, safety, and legal protections.
They also said the proposed laws are responding to “myths” about sex workers. This included a perception of sex workers as “vectors of disease” that have been working on the street and are victims of human trafficking or exploitation.
The commission also found that current laws stopped many sex workers from reporting crimes to police, due to fears of being arrested themselves, or not being taken seriously.
It also found the licensing system used to legally operate brothels was not taken up across the state, creating a “two-tiered” approach in the industry. It’s believed only 10% of Queensland brothels have the licence.
They also recommended adding new legal definitions distinguishing sex work from sexual exploitation.
What did the Government say?
The Queensland Government are committed to decriminalising sex work, and will now undertake additional consultation before new laws are passed.
“The review has provided the opportunity to consider how best to modernise our laws, support business in the state, and reduce discrimination and stigma associated with workers in the sex work industry,” Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said.