New York state could become the first to decriminalize sex work.
Lawmakers and members from the advocacy group DecrimNY proposed the bill on June 10. The Stop Violence in the Sex Trade Acts is a package of bills that aims to decriminalize sex work between two consenting adults while upholding existing anti-trafficking laws. The bill would also introduce language to better represent the LGBTQ+ community.
“Criminalization of sex work kills my community,” former sex worker and DecrimNY member stated. “Criminalization of sex work stain our records in a way for what we cannot access employment otherwise. And make no mistake, the criminalization of buyers does not help either.”
According to a study by the Urban Institute, LGBTQ+ youth are seven to eight times more likely to have traded sex to meet survival needs in NYC than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. The majority of youths engaging in “survival sex” in NYC are consistently people of color.
In NY, prostitution is currently treated as a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine of up to $500. Those guilty of soliciting prostitution can face prison and a fine as well.
Supporters of the bill include Democratic state Senators Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar.