Yesterday, 12 October 2021, the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Melissa Horne, tabled the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic).
This is a moment to celebrate: the Victorian Government begins the process of delivering on our hopes that sex work will finally be decriminalised after more than 40 years of lobbying from various groups in Victoria. In fact, the tabling of this bill marks the furthest advance Victoria has made in progressing sex workers’ rights to date.
It’s a sad reality that, as we always feared, the bill seeks to retain some street solicitation offences. Sex work in public has always been very confronting to many people and we will continue to call for the clauses that criminalise solicitation to be removed.
But the bill delivers well when it comes to anti-discrimination protections, prohibiting councils from discriminating against sex workers and putting an end to the sex work licensing system.
This bill also comes at a time when………
-we are on the eve of an election year (2022), the coronavirus pandemic reaches new crescendos, with a new record of over 2,000 new daily infections in Victoria.
-Melbourne breaks the world record for the longest coronavirus lockdown – 255 days and counting.
-A public corruption investigation casts a shadow over the Victorian Government, with more resignations.
-Melbourne sees violent protests against coronavirus vaccine mandates.
-The news media remains fixated and preoccupied with the pandemic.
It’s possible the parliament will manage to quietly pass a number of bills while the media remains focussed on the pandemic. Let’s wait and see.