Decriminalize Prostitution Now Coalition
Your Tax Dollars Are Being Wasted Ruining Citizens Lives
Instead of fighting real crime

Sexworkers in Austraila's New South Wales
fighting new attacks on incall sexworkers.

Licensed Brothels are legal as is prostitution in general in NSW (and most of Australia and the world except the U.S.) . But there have been "morality" attacks and complaints resulting in shutting down some sexworkers working out of their homes and getting brothel licenses in residential areas.. Sexworkers want one or two women (two for safety) to be allowed to work out of their homes in residential areas and not be threatened by local counsels.

Excerpts from
Dear Friends of Social Justice, Equal Rights and the Public Health,
Members of "The Oldest Profession" urgently seek a moment of your time.

Sex work is legal in NSW. In 1995 the Disorderly Houses Amendment Act was very clear, Local Councils were only to act against Sex Industry businesses if they had received sufficient complaints about noise, parking, etc, from neighbours in close vicinity and moral complaints were definitely not to be considered. In 1995 the Govt showed leadership and vision in de-criminalising sex work, but things have slipped backwards since then.

The motto of the Sex Workers Outreach Project in NSW is "Safety, Dignity, Unity and Respect". These are the four highest rated ideals of the sex workers in NSW, and they are all under attack from the Government Amendments to the Disorderly Houses Amendment Act.

Fortunately, the Greens are proposing an Amendment in the Upper House that will redefine a brothel as having more than two sex workers, and challenge the Government on some of the extremely unsafe suggestions listed as allowable circumstantial evidence, e.g. condoms, safe sex and Sex Industry literature etc.

If any of this has made you feel angry about the injustice and intolerance being inflicted upon sex workers and their clients, or you feel fearful about the Government playing Russian Roulette with the public health, don't feel impotent - their is something you can do right now.

The NSW Labour Government is in the process of attempting to pass the Disorderly Houses Amendment (Brothels) Bill. This legislation has major flaws that will immediately cause immense damage to the NSW Health Department's HIV prevention strategies - proven to lower the risks of HIV transmissions within the Sex Industry in NSW.

Until now, NSW has been internationally acknowledged as having had remarkable success with an enlightened approach to Sex Industry sexual health initiatives. Up until now, HIV transmissions within the Sex Industry in NSW have been among the lowest in the world. But this is not a time for complacency, and it is certainly not the time to be playing Russian Roulette with the Public Health - consider the following news and client information.

This year the United Nations identified our neighbouring Asia/Pacific region as having the faster growing epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the world.

Two weeks ago, alarming figures were released in Perth, that show the numbers of heterosexual 'sero-converting' with HIV have just reached a par with the rates for gay men.

The clients of female sex workers engage in multiple risk-taking behaviours in relation to HIV/AIDS. "Clients are twice as likely to have had unsafe sex with twice as many people as non-client men are. They are twice as likely to have had sex with another guy, and three times as likely to have used injecting drugs." -(Venereology, the International Journal of Sexual Health -Volume 12, #1, 1999. 'Characteristics, Attitudes and Risk Behaviours of Australian Men Who Visit Female Sex Workers'. S Moore )

If the Government's Amendments go through as they are, they will totally de-stabilise the delicate balance of confidentiality and tolerance that exists between private sex workers, their clients and the general public. This Bill will dis-empower sex workers when negotiating safer sex and non-penetrative options with their clients, and force sex workers from their safest working environment - their own home.

This Govt Bill, in it's present form, raises major issues of concern in regard to the Public Health, Human Right's, Women's Rights, Workplace Health & Safety and the right of the general adult public to anonymously access the discreet environment private sex workers provide. However none of these issues have been raised by Local Councils.

One of the ill-advised changes to the Disorderly Houses Amendment Act (1995), will allow Local Councils to use Adult Services advertisements as circumstantial evidence in Court. Councils will be encouraged to spy on private workers and their clients and publicly expose them by taking them to Court. This will force privates to either work underground - (vulnerable to corrupt Local Council Officers), visibly on the streets, or in large mainly male-run brothels, giving away half their earnings from every job and losing control over which clients they see.

Other Government Amendments will also suddenly allow Local Councils to use workplace safe sex equipment - (condoms, lubricant, rubber gloves), safe sex literature and other sex industry safety resources as evidence of a premises being used for the purposes of prostitution. This will totally undermine all current HIV/AIDS prevention programmes within the Sex Industry. Anyone would think sex workers are suburban terrorists, when in reality sex workers are the foremost safe sex practitioners and educators within the broader community.

It is in the interest of the public health; the health, safety and privacy of sex workers; and their clients and their families, that sex workers have a legal and anonymous option to work from home - off the streets and without a middleman.

I most strongly urge you to support the Green Party Amendments to the Disorderly Houses Amendment (Brothels) Bill to redefine a brothel as having more than two workers. In addition, up to two private sex workers - (2 for safety reasons) must be able to work in all zones, including residential zones, as "exempt developments" - not requiring approval from Local Councils to operate discreetly.

BACKGROUND on the Decriminalization of Brothels NSW in 1995

THE DISORDERLY HOUSES AMENDMENT Act 1995 came into effect on 8 December 1995. The main effect of this legislation is that it will decriminalise brothels, but there is more to it than simply decriminalisation.

There are those in the community who feel strongly on moral or religious grounds that the Government should prohibit prostitution in all its forms. While one must respect these views, they simply do not take into account the reality of the situation.

Prostitution per se is not illegal in New South Wales, though there are restrictions placed on the activity by provisions in the Summary Offences Act 1988, the Crimes Act 1900 and child protection legislation. The intention of the Summary Offences Act provisions is to ensure that acts of prostitution do not take place in public areas and it also prohibits the advertising of prostitution services or employment for prostitutes.

The oldest profession
The expression "the oldest profession in the world" is often used in relation to prostitution and it gives some indication of the failure of successive governments to stamp it out. In more recent times, the strengthening of human rights provisions and the more tolerant attitude of the community generally, have seen the lifting of some of the restraints placed on an individual's sexuality and chosen way of life.

In 1943 when the Disorderly Houses Act was proclaimed, its main purpose was to keep American servicemen out of sly grog shops and unlicensed nightclubs. The government of the day was concerned that nearby residents may be disturbed by drunken or indecent behaviour by servicemen visiting such premises.

Although the connection with American servicemen is an historical anachronism, the Act provides that where drunken or indecent behaviour or entertainment occurs, where liquor or drugs are sold unlawfully or where criminals consort, police may apply to the Supreme Court to have the premises declared a disorderly house.

The effect of such a declaration is that thereafter any person entering the premises is guilty of an offence under the Act. The occupier and the owner may also be guilty of an offence if the occupier allows the disorderly behaviour to continue or if the owner fails to evict the occupier. Police may enter the premises at any time without a warrant to seize liquor, drugs, or related items found on the premises.

In 1968 the Act was amended to add "premises habitually used for prostitution" to the classes of premises which may be declared disorderly.

In 1983 a Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly was formed to inquire into prostitution in New South Wales. Between 1983 and 1986 the Committee met on 76 occasions taking evidence from a wide cross section of the community including prostitutes, their clients, social and health workers, police, ministers of religion and representatives of numerous interest groups. The report of the committee is comprehensive and thorough.

In 1988 the Court of Appeal held, in Sibuse v Shaw that a brothel is a disorderly house regardless of whether it is disorderly in the usual meaning of the word. This being the case, police were able to seek an order from the Supreme Court that any premises operating as a brothel be closed down merely because the premises were being used for that purpose.

If police took this action with every brothel which came to their attention, it would mean that even orderly, well-run, brothels would be closed and the prostitutes would be forced onto the streets. Thus many more city and suburban streets would be used by prostitutes. This is undesirable for a number of reasons:

* Street prostitution is considered to be offensive and undesirable.

* Health and social workers have more difficulty reaching street prostitutes with their health and safe sex practices education programmes.

* Street prostitutes are at greater risk of HIV infection than those who work in brothels where some medical supervision exists and where the use of condoms may be enforced.

This Act is therefore designed to overcome the effect of the decision in Sibuse v Shaw.

No unregulated operations
It is not the intention of this Act that brothels will be permitted to operate unregulated. To this end, it also provides an avenue for the community to make complaints to local councils where a brothel is having a significant detrimental effect on the neighbourhood. Councils are empowered under these provisions, to apply to the Land and Environment Court to have the brothel closed down.

By amendments to the Summary Offences Act 1988 and the Crimes Act 1900, this Act abolishes the common law misdemeanour of keeping a common bawdy house or brothel; provides that those persons who are in a legitimate commercial relationship with a prostitute are not guilty of the offence of living off the earnings of prostitution; and ensures that women, particularly young women are not exploited as a result of the recognition of brothels as a legitimate commercial enterprise.

The recommendations in the Select Committee's report and submissions received from the community, churches and sex workers organisations have been taken into account in the drafting of this Act. The NSW Police Service, the Department of Local Government, the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning and the Local Government and Shires Association were also consulted before the final draft of the Act was prepared.

The Government can not legislate to control the moral values of the community, and prostitution per se is not illegal. However the government can and should legislate to reduce public health risks to both the prostitutes and their clients and to protect the community, and particularly its young people, from the more undesirable aspects of prostitution. This Act does all those things, and in so doing has the support of a wide cross section of the community.

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