Tag Archives: sex work

Conference passes sex work motion unamended

The first policy debate of the Conference has taken place with Conference overwhelmingly backing a policy paper which decriminalises sex work and provides workers with support which will improve their health and make them safer. An amendment which would have undermined the motion by calling for kerb-crawling convictions to be maintained was defeated. Joe Otten was right in his summation to talk about sexual harassment but as Charlotte Cane reminded conference in her summation, the evidence was that criminalising clients made sex workers less safe.

Here’s a flavour of the debate:

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Should sex workers or their clients be criminalised? What Lib Dem members think

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 741 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

This lunchtime, two consultation sessions will take place on two policy areas. Full debates on these subjects will take place at Spring Conference in York.

I remember way back in 1992, around Black Wednesday, we were the first national party to debate sex work. We are now in the process of updating our policy to take account of recent evidence and international practice.

Two controversial aspects of this are whether sex workers or their clients should be criminalised. There have been several attempts to change the law in Scotland to criminalise sex workers’ clients but these have so far been defeated.

We asked what our members thought. They were pretty clear.

Do you support the decriminalisation of sex work?

Yes: 92.04%

No:    7.96%

A selection of comments:

I support the decriminalisation of the individual sex workers. But the organised trade in sex, and exploitation of indivuals, should be criminalised further.

There must be protection from trafficking and abuse and coercion. But there are people, I suspect, who would find offering sex as an acceptable economic activity. I deplore the whole business and would hate any of my family to be involved but personal freedom is essential.

I would like to see laws to protect sex workers against exploitation and abusive clients. It is difficult to do that while sex work itself is a criminal offence.

Should clients of sex workers be criminalised?

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Belinda Brooks-Gordon on Today talking about making sex work safer

Belinda BG at BBCDr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, who led on the development of our policy on sex work, was on the Today programme this morning debating whether managed zones for sex workers are effective. She cited huge amounts of evidence which suggests that they are. The retired police officer was pretty aggressive in the way he made his points and was really patronising to Belinda who has done so much academic research in this field.

The police officer said that we should be looking to eliminate rather than enable sex work. Belinda cited how this makes life much more difficult and dangerous for sex workers with actual examples. The occupant of the blue Police Box would have given a much more sensible answer, I’m sure.

You can listen to the debate here at about 2:31 in.

Belinda referred to a paper she had given at the British Psychological Society about the effects of the then Government’s action to crack down on sex work. You can read that paper by clicking here

You can read a letter signed by Belinda and other academics,arguing against the so-called Nordic Model, which

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Help create liberal sex work law in Scotland – consultation ends today

Scottish Liberal Democrat Women have been at the forefront of ensuring the Scottish party has a workable policy that secures the rights and safety of sex workers. Jean Urquhart MSP (Highlands and Islands, Independent) has proposed a Bill that is in agreement with this policy, and the Bill consultation is ongoing. Sadly, we are too close to the elections for Holyrood to officially start the Bill process – Members’ Bills can only be introduced up until June of the penultimate year of the session. However, it’s important that we have a framework to build from in the next Scottish Parliament – and, of course, as many Lib Dem MSPs as possible to support the change! This is our contribution to the consultation process.

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Amnesty should support decriminalisation of sex work

This month, Amnesty International delegates will vote on a proposal to make decriminalisation of sex work a campaigning matter for the human rights organisation. This, understandably, has raised ire from many people, but none so large as parts of the feminist movement.

Just last week, we saw several Hollywood actors – ordinarily staunch allies of Amnesty’s work – sign an open letter promulgated by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women calling for Amnesty to reject the policy. One notable signatory was Anne Hathaway, who received an Oscar two years ago for her portrayal of Fantine in Les Miserables.
Fantine’s story is one that resembles that of many sex workers – after losing her job at Valjean’s factory, and being unable to make ends meet, she turns to selling sex at the docks of Montrieul. Eventually, after she is assaulted by a client, Javert arrests her and sentences her to prison. Only through Valjean’s intervention is Fantine able to die a free woman. Would criminalisation have helped Fantine? Obviously not; solicitation was highly illegal in 19th century France. In addition, like many of these laws, it was a law only ever utilised against the poorest workers. Hugo’s message in telling Fantine’s story was not one against prostitution; it was one of moral judgement failing the most in need.
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Opinion: Fighting for sex workers’ rights in Scotland

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 11.01.01So, here we go again! Another bid to introduce the Nordic Model of criminalising the clients of sex workers has been launched this week in Scotland. This time it comes from a group called End Prostitution Now; a campaigning organisation made up of some very familiar faces and backed by Rhoda Grant MSP whose last attempt to introduce this legislation failed in 2012. Advocating for sex workers’ rights in Scotland can sometimes feel like playing Whack-a-Mole; every time we successfully argue against one campaign to make sex work more dangerous, another pops up almost immediately – perhaps having undergone a slight rebrand, but always essentially the same as the last.

On Monday, End Prostitution Now’s spokesperson Jan Macleod (whose widely-discredited research on the matter has been described by academics as “violating fundamental principles of human research ethics”) appeared on Scotland Tonight to defend the proposals. When challenged on the dangers caused by the Nordic Model in practice, she claimed that Googling brought up mixed evidence and stated that it was difficult to know which sources to believe.

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Belinda Brooks-Gordon on Women’s Hour speaking out against “Nordic Model” on sex work

IMG_9128Today the Commons debates amendments to the Modern Slavery Bill which would criminalise the purchase of sex. Sarah Noble argued against this approach yesterday. The party emphatically passed policy which rejected this “Nordic Model” on the basis that all the evidence suggests that this puts sex workers in danger.

Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, who summated on that motion at Conference, debated the issue on Women’s Hour on Radio 4 with the amendment’s proposer Fiona McTaggart MP. You can listen here from about 20 minutes in.

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