Media Release

Decriminalisation of sex industry is the best way forward

03 November 2017

In the wake of recent commentary about reform of the sex work industry in South Australia, the Law Society reaffirms its support for a full decriminalisation model.

The Law Society believes that decriminalising sex work is the best way to protect workers in the industry.

“Sex industry workers should be afforded the same rights and protections as any other employee,” Law Society President Tony Rossi said.

“Decriminalising sex work would significantly reduce the health and safety risks that some sex workers currently face.”

“The criminal status of sex work is a major barrier to sex workers, mostly women, reporting instances of abuse. Decriminalisation would remove this barrier and provide a more secure environment for workers to speak up about and prevent abuse and other forms of inappropriate treatment, knowing they are backed by work health and safety laws.”

Mr Rossi said concerns that decriminalising the sex work industry would make it more difficult to investigate suspected criminal activity were unwarranted.

“Police already have extensive search powers,” Mr Rossi said.  “The police would still, for example, be able to enter premises where it is reasonably suspected that sexual servitude is taking place.”

“The decriminalisation of sex work would not impact the ability of police to investigate offences such as trafficking and sexual servitude. In fact, decriminalising the sex industry would encourage staff to cooperate with authorities with regards to suspected serious criminal behaviour.”

“In this day and age, it is not appropriate that a sex industry worker be in a position of not being protected by minimum standards of workplace safety. By shrouding the industry in criminality, sex workers are marginalised and stigmatised, leaving them more open to exploitation and making it difficult for sex workers to make plans to leave the industry if they wish to do so. It’s time to bring our laws in this area into the modern age”.