Decriminalise Sex Work | Respect QLD

Decriminalise Sex Work

Many Queensland laws are not workable and criminalise basic sex worker safety strategies. It is the position of Respect Inc that full decriminalisation is the best legal framework for sex workers in Queensland. Find out more about the campaign to decriminalise sex work in Queensland:

Laws in Queensland

Sex work and the sex industry in Queensland are regulated by laws in: the Prostitution Act (Qld) 1999; the Criminal Code 1899, Section 22A and sections of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000.

The Prostitution Act 1999 came into effect in July 2000 and introduced a brothel licensing system, established the Prostitution Licensing Authority and allowed for the development of Regulations. At the same time as allowing boutique brothels the laws criminalise all other sex industry businesses models (escort agencies, erotic massage parlours, co-ops and sex workers working in pairs or from the same premise as another worker). The Act allows the Prostitution Licensing Authority to determine the ‘approved form’ of advertising and this has resulted in confusing and heavily restrictive guidelines that make it illegal for sex workers to describe their services in an advertisement, even using acronyms or coded industry references.

The Criminal Code, in section 22A, makes many sex worker safety strategies illegal (letting another sex worker know where you are on a booking, checking-in at the end of a booking, driving another sex worker to a outcall, hiring a receptionist to screen bookings, working in pairs etc).

Under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 police can entrap sex workers while posing as clients and have immunity to request (and undertake) illegal activities. A sex worker does not have to undertake the illegal activity to be charged, agreeing to the activity is enough. In many cases sex workers phones and earnings are seized as ‘tainted goods’ and money can be confiscated.

If you are a sex worker seeking more detailed information on the laws in Queensland there is a Respect Inc. resource available here.

Queensland laws have failed

The laws in Queensland have failed on a number of counts. They have:

  • failed to provide safe working environments for sex workers, with many aspects of the laws endangering sex workers’ safety.
  • failed to effectively regulate the industry, with only 20 legal brothels in the state and the majority of the industry forced to operate outside the arduous, expensive system.
  • failed to deliver a cost-effective system of regulation, costing taxpayers at least $20 million and showing no likelihood of becoming sustainable through licensing fees.
  • failed to protect against police corruption, as police are now, once again, the regulators of the majority of the sex industry.

The Solution

Decriminalisation is the repeal of sex work specific laws. In Queensland that includes repeal of Criminal Code Section 22A, the Prostitution Act and sections of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act. Decriminalisation is not ‘no regulation’. When sex work is no longer criminalised, the laws and regulations that apply to other businesses apply to the sex industry.

Importantly, police would no longer have a role in the regulation of the sex industry. In line with the Fitzgerald Inquiry recommendation there would not be a police unit specific to the sex industry. Of course, the criminal laws that apply to other industries and the general community will still apply to sex workers and the sex industry.  For more information about decriminalisation read this Scarlet Alliance briefing paper.

Who we are

#DecrimQLD is a committee of sex workers who have joined with Respect Inc., to progress the removal of harmful and discriminatory sex work laws and achieve decriminalisation in Queensland.

Our campaign aims to:

  • raise awareness of the problems with the laws in Queensland

  • demonstrate the importance of removing harmful laws

  • provide information on decriminalisation and other models of sex work regulation

  • ensure policy discussions are informed by evidence, and

  • make sure sex workers inform any and all changes to the sex industry laws in Queensland.

Contact us

e:         m: 0491 228 509       t:  Instagram

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