13 September 2021: This is Morality Politics

Morality policies occur…..

“(…) if policies are explicitly ideological, a proxy for a larger cause, almost exclusively owned by the general public, impervious to facts, discussed in emotionally highly charged language, concerned more with the symbolism of strong measures than the details of implementation, and prone to sudden policy reversals, we designate them as an instance of morality politics.” 

Quote from page 49 of the 2017 book  ‘Designing Prostitution Policy Intention and Reality in Regulating the Sex Trade’ by academics Wagenaar, Altink and Amesberger.

The authors identify the six signs of what they term ‘morality politics’. At Sex Work Law Reform Victoria, we always knew it was coming, and now Boroondara Council in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburbs is taking the lead on morality politics. On 6 September, the council quietly passed an anti-sex work urgent motion 10 to 1, with 10 voting against sex workers’ rights (item 5.2 in council meeting minutes).

Even the Greens councillor Wes Gaultvoted against his party’s policies by voting to oppose the decriminalisation of sex work. The motion calls for an ugly, fear-based campaign where residents will receive communications from council about the awful impacts of sex work in the surburbs. Sex workers are already living and working in the suburbs across Melbourne. Almost no one notices us at all, because we operate quietly and without incident. 

But don’t forget, morality politics is ‘impervious to facts’.