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New York Lawmakers Introduce Decriminalizing Sex Work

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter

New York lawmakers introduced legislation to legalize sex work in the state of New York on Monday.

The legislation, titled Stop Violence in the Sex Trade Acts, covers a variety of topics related to sex work. Lawmakers say that the bill would decriminalize sex work and guard against human trafficking within the sex working industry, according to The Hill.

“Sex work is work and should not be criminalized by the state,” said lead sponsor of the bill Democratic New York Sen. Julia Salazar. (RELATED: Sugar Daddy CEO Promises To Pay Airfare For Any Woman Who Wants An Abortion)

“Our current policies only empower traffickers and others who benefit from keeping sex work in the shadows,” Salazar added. “New York State needs to listen to sex workers and make these common sense reforms to keep sex workers safe and empower sex workers in their workplaces.”

DecrimNY, the coalition backing the bill, said in a press release that Stop Violence in the Sex Trade Acts is the first statewide bill of its kind in U.S. history. The coalition is a group of more than 30 organizations working on topics such as LGBTQ, racial justice, and immigrant rights spaces.

Lawmakers emphasized that the bill decriminalizes sex work only between consenting adults.

The bill would also allow consenting adults to “trade sex in spaces where legal businesses are permitted, while upholding that maintaining an exploitative workplace where coercion and trafficking takes place is a felony,” according to DecrimNY’s press release.

“Decriminalizing sex work between consenting adults in New York will protect many of my neighbors — people who have found themselves in limited situations because of employment and housing discrimination,” said Senate Labor Committee Chair Jessica Ramos according to the press release.

Lawmakers also said that the criminalization of sex work negatively impacts LGBTQ populations and endangers sex workers.

“For too long, the criminalization of sex work has negatively terrorized a community of disproportionately minority, female, LGBTQIA+, and/or undocumented individuals,” said Assembly Asian Pacific American Task Force Co-Chair Yuh-Line Niou.

“We deserve to have the opportunity to utilize our justice system without fear and receive support from language-accessible and culturally sensitive resources.”

Decrim also introduced a bill to legalize sex work in Washington, D.C. in June.

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