The NT Parliament voted to repeal their old laws yesterday, meaning brothels, home-based sex work, and soliciting are no longer illegal.
Supporters are celebrating the move, saying it will help improve safety for sex workers and remove the stigma associated with their profession. “When you take the word ‘sex’ out of it, we are looking at it from a worker safety perspective and we are looking it from regulating it so our community has a say in it,” the NT Attorney-General Natasha Fyles told the ABC.
Member for Braitling, Dale Wakefield, while speaking on the bill, said she knew many “fabulous and fierce women” in the sex industry. “They deserve, like anyone, any worker anywhere, to access services when and where they need it, to report a crime, to have a violence-free workplace and to be able to control the manner in which they do their job,” she said.
This morning Victoria also took its first steps towards decriminalisation, announcing a review into their laws. Currently they have more than 250 pages of legislation governing sex work across the state. A similar push for decriminalisation failed in South Australia earlier this month, when a bill was defeated in parliament.
Last year, research found that sex workers where the trade is criminalised were three times more likely to experience violence.
What about the rest of Australia?
NSW: Sex work was decriminalised in 1995. Street sex work is lawful, as long as it is not near or within view of a school, church, hospital or dwelling.
SA: A bill to decriminalise sex work failed earlier this month.
ACT: Private sex workers can work from a premise, as long as they are operating alone. Street sex work is illegal, and workers may be arrested for soliciting or loitering.
QLD: It is legal for sex workers to work privately, or in a licensed brothel. However, any other form of sex work is illegal – this includes unlicensed brothels or parlours, street workers, out-calls from licensed brothels or for private workers to work in pairs or to share one premises. Entrapment is also legal, which means police can pose as clients or sex workers to catch people acting illegally.
TAS: Brothels are illegal, and so is street-based sex work. Private sex work is legal as long as no more than two sex workers work together, although there are conditions.
VIC: Street sex work is illegal. Sex workers can work privately, or out of registered brothels or escort agencies, but they must first register with the government. It is also illegal for self-employed sex workers to take a client into their home or a motel without approval.
WA: While sex work itself is not illegal, there are laws against brothels and street sex work.
More information can be found at the Scarlet Alliance, Australia’s peak sex worker organisation.