Queer News

How LGBT People Would Benefit From The Decriminalization Of Sex Work

Food for thought….

Think Progress reports:

A massive feud has erupted over new a new policy Amnesty International is considering recommending the decriminalization of sex work. A huge group of celebrities, including Lena Dunham, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, and Anne Hathaway, has joined with other organizations in decrying the proposal, framing it as calling for “the decriminalization of pimps, brothel owners, and buyers of sex — the pillars of a $99 billion global sex industry.”

The issue is a contentious one. The core of Amnesty’s argument is that criminalizing sex work creates additional barriers for sex workers to overcome the challenges that may have forced them into sex work or that prevent them from leaving it, all while unnecessarily stigmatizing all people who have ever engaged in it. The celebrities and groups who oppose the policy argue that criminalizing sex work is the only way to protect women from the manipulation and abuse they might experience through it. They fail, however, to consider the many people who are negatively impacted by the criminalization of sex work, such as the LGBT community.

The celebrities’ letter opposing the Amnesty policy change only mentions transgender people once — incorrectly describing them as “transgendered.” Men who have sex with men are not mentioned whatsoever. Instead, the letter emphasizes the need to end trafficking, noting, “Without a vibrant sex industry, there would be no sex trafficking,” ignoring how some people depend on the sex industry because other options are not open to them due to discrimination. It dismisses concerns about the aim of reducing HIV transmission rates by suggesting that such efforts “seem far more concerned with the health of sex buyers than the lives of prostituted and sex trafficked women.”

As the inclusive “Draft Policy on Sex Work” explains, however, “Groups most at risk of discrimination and oppression are frequently over represented in sex work,” and specifically, “Transgender people and men who have sex with men also account for a significant proportion of sex workers in many states.” In the U.S., one survey found that among LGBTQ youth, young men were three times as likely as young women to have traded sex for a place to stay, and in general, LGBTQ youth were seven times more likely than heterosexual youth to have done so. Likewise, another study found that transgender youth in New York City were eight times more likely than their cisgender peers to trade sex for shelter. Though all commercial sex by people under the age of 18 is considered “trafficking,” an overwhelming majority of LGBT youth involved in sex work are not being exploited, but simply working to survive. As a result, LGB youth are much more likely to be in juvenile detention on prostitution-related offenses — about double the rate for girls and 10 times the rate for boys.

Read more at thinkprogress.org