Bill to decriminalise sex work introduced in Australia’s Northern Territory

Source (institute/publication)
Scarlet Alliance

Sex workers in Australia have praised the Government for working with sex workers to introduce a new Bill to decriminalise sex work in the state. The Bill was introduced on 18th September and aims to ‘decriminalise sex work and legalise contracts in relation to sex work’, and to ‘enhance sex worker, client and public health and safety’.

Currently, sex workers in Northern Territory can work only under certain restrictive conditions. Sex workers working alone and indoors can work legally, but street-based sex work and brothels are criminalised. The Sex Industry Bill 2019 repeals the Prostitution Regulation Act (1992) and its amendments, removing these penalties. 

When the Bill was introduced, politicians from the Labor government wore hand painted red umbrella pins, which were painted by a sex worker to show appreciation to the Government for prioritising the safety and human rights of sex workers.

Scarlet Alliance CEO Jules Kim said:

"All Territorians deserve to be safe at work, including sex workers. Being a sex worker is a recognised profession in the Northern Territory and we applaud the Government for recognising every Territorian's workplace rights."

SWOP Northern Territory Coordinator Leanne Melling said: "Sex workers also wish to thank stakeholders in the Northern Territory that have supported reforms and active engagement of sex workers as leaders for these reforms. We acknowledge the support of health and justice government and non-government departments and organisations and affiliates of Unions NT, the United Voice and the Australian Services Union. We thank Labor Women and the Labor Party for their support of motions to decriminalise sex work."

The Bill in Northern Territory comes after a similar Bill was introduced in South Australia, after thirteen attempts to do so. The Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill 2018 has passed through the Upper House, and has been read in the House of Assembly for a first time. It will be debated again on 25th September.