Hooray! Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill Passes in Victoria
Press Release: 10 February, 2022
Sex Work Law Reform Victoria celebrates this passing of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic) by the Legislative Council of the Victorian Parliament. This historical move makes the Australian state of Victoria only the fourth jurisdiction in the world to decriminalise sex work. The decriminalisation of sex work provides sex workers with access to the same workplace health and safety protections as other Victorians.
This is a momentous achievement for Victorian sex workers and their supporters, who have have been engaged in advocacy and activism to bring about these legal reforms since the 1970s. Sex Work Law Reform Victoria thanks Victorian sex workers for their ongoing commitment to achieving decriminalisation.
The Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 decriminalises sex work, repealing over the next two years criminal laws associated with consensual adult sex work. This is an important first step in acknowledging sex work as work, allowing for progressive changes to health, planning and other laws to align the regulation of sex work with similar service based businesses. Sex workers will be closely monitoring the progress of these future reforms. Crucially, and uniquely, the bill strengthens anti-discrimination protections available to sex workers.
“In particular, we would like to thank the leader of the Reason Party, Fiona Patten, who has campaigned tirelessly for sex workers’ rights in Victoria and previously in the Australian Capital Territory. We also thank Liberal Democrats MP’s David Limbrick and Tim Quilty for listening to us and hearing our issues and concerns throughout the process of decriminalising sex work,” says Sex Work Law Reform Victoria president, Lisa Dallimore. “Special thanks go to veteran sex workers’ rights advocate Cheryl Overs, who spearheaded Sex Workers’ Voices Victoria’s extensive consultation and subsequent detailed submission to Fiona Patten’s 2020 Sex Work Review.”
This is a huge win for Victorian sex workers, adding momentum to similar campaigns for the decriminalisation of sex work across Australia and the world. The passage of this bill demonstrates Victoria’s commitment to valuing sex workers as equally deserving of rights and protections as other members of the community.
We applaud the Victorian Government for listening to sex workers and taking this bold step. Sex work is work and it is encouraging to see the law finally reflect this.
Sex Work Law Reform Victoria Inc.
Sex Work Law Reform Victoria is a not-for-profit sex workers’ rights organisation led by Victorian sex workers. Founded in 2018, the organisation advocates to all levels of government regarding the legal rights of sex workers in Victoria. Sex Work Law Reform Victoria has put sex workers’ rights on the political agenda in Victoria, Australia, paving the way for the passage of this bill.
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Watch Fiona Patten, Second Reading Speech on the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021
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Find out which banks cut off sex workers:
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Current Sex Work Laws
While current laws allow a minority of sex workers to operate legally, the majority remain criminalised.
Why Do the Laws Need to be Changed?
We believe all workers deserve a safe and healthy work environment.
What We Do
Sex Work Law Reform Victoria advocates for:
- the full decriminalisation of consensual adult sex work in the Australian state of Victoria
- the removal of institutional discrimination against Victorian sex workers
We recognise that sex work is work and that criminal laws should not be applied to activities conducted between consenting adults.
Q: Isn’t sex work already decriminalised in Victoria?
Q: Isn’t sex work already legalised in Victoria?
A: Yes and no. The existing Victorian laws are overly complex and criminalise most sex workers.
Q: What about human trafficking in the sex industry?
A: Sex work and human trafficking are entirely different. We condemn any form of human trafficking. Australia has in place powerful laws that criminalise human trafficking in all industries, including the sex industry. We support the current anti-trafficking laws. Read more on our Human Trafficking page.
Q. Doesn’t decriminalisation encourage more people to take up sex work?
No. Surveys showed that the number of sex workers in New Zealand remained static following the introduction of decriminalisation.
Q: Does decriminalisation allow human trafficking?
A: No. Human trafficking remains a criminal offence.
Q: Doesn’t decriminalising sex work lead to more human trafficking?
Q: Do we support the Nordic Model (Swedish Model) of criminalising sex work clients?
A: No. The Nordic Model (Swedish Model) of sex work is favoured by some anti-sex work activists and applies blanket criminal penalties to all clients of all sex workers. We view sex work as work and support Amnesty International’s view that full decriminalisation of sex work is the best way to prevent violence against sex workers. Sex workers across Australia strongly endorse full decriminalisation and report that it creates safer and healthier working conditions for sex workers.
Q: Are we mainly focused on reforming street sex work laws?
In association with Sex Work Law Reform Victoria, film students at Deakin University present ‘Men at Work’, a six minute documentary about male sex work in Melbourne, Australia. The film tells the story of a young and determined male escort. For more information about this film, see the ‘Men at Work’ FaceBook page.
© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2022
Last updated: 8 August 2022