SA Sex Work Bill defeatedThursday, November 15, 2012
FamilyVoice Australia has welcomed the defeat of a private member’s bill to decriminalise the sex trade in the South Australian House of Assembly this morning.
“The Sex Work Reform Bill failed by one vote (19:20),” said FamilyVoice national research officer Ros Phillips. “It was a narrow defeat, but we rejoice that it has put an end to an attempt to bring in ‘open slather’ prostitution and pimping. Similar laws in NSW and elsewhere have resulted in a boom in legal and illegal brothels as well as street prostitution. They are out of control.”
Hon Steph Key, the bill’s sponsor, abruptly brought on the second reading vote, despite acknowledging that other MPs had wanted to speak but were absent (some because of the Adelaide visit of US secretary of state Hillary Clinton).
Mrs Phillips said Ms Key is clearly not across the latest evidence about the SA sex trade. “She claimed that sex trafficking would not increase if SA brothels are decriminalised – ignoring what has happened in NSW and NZ under this type of law. Hillary Clinton is on record this year, criticising New Zealand as a source of Maori and Pacific Islander girls for sex trafficking and slavery,” Ros Phillips said. “The situation in NSW is so bad that the government has announced it will change its current laws.”
Ms Key also claimed sex workers suffer less sexual ill-health compared to the general population. “She is apparently unaware that evidence to this effect comes from sexual health clinics. It does not take into account the vast majority of the population who see their own GPs,” Ros Phillips said.
Mrs Phillips said the abrupt end to the second reading debate meant that speeches outlining the many downsides to the legislation were not allowed to be heard. Nor were speeches noting countries which have cut trafficking rates by using more enlightened models of prostitution law.
Premier Jay Weatherill and opposition leader Isobel Redmond were absent for the vote, as were some other key MPs. Upper house Liberal shadow attorney-general Stephen Wade MLC yesterday called for the issue to be referred to a committee.
“Our prostitution laws certainly need updating in order to deal with the epidemic of sex trafficking – demonstrated by the ABC ‘Four Corners’ program on 11/10/11,” Ros Phillips said. “Decriminalisation and legalisation have clearly failed interstate. SA should look at the Nordic model which criminalises exploitation – including pimping, procuring, brothel keeping and buying sex – and provides an effective exit program to help women leave the trade.
“We congratulate all 20 MPs who helped defeat this dangerous bill today.”
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