This workshop will discuss laws that criminalize sex work and their impact on LGBTQ people, with a focus on transgender women, LGBTQ people of color, and LGBTQ homeless youth. LGBTQ communities are disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of sex work. Criminalization takes many forms, including street-based policing, law enforcement crackdowns on online platforms, and targeting sex work as part of federal anti-trafficking efforts. Since Congress passed SESTA-FOSTA in 2018, online platforms have been shut down, leading many sex workers to return to street-based work and increasing vulnerability to arrest, violence, and exploitation. Moreover, criminalization affects the health of sex workers. Research demonstrates that decriminalization of sex work would have the greatest impact for averting HIV infections among sex workers. The workshop will include an update on and policy recommendations from a research project conducted by Georgetown Law’s O’Neill Institute, Whitman-Walker Health, and HIPS, which explores the impact of laws and policies on sex workers in Washington, DC and their access to health care and social services. The panel will discuss advocacy efforts around sex work decriminalization. We will discuss the activities of the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition (SWAC) in DC and Decrim NY in New York State. SWAC pushed for the introduction of a ground-breaking bill in 2017 that would decriminalize consensual sexual commercial transactions between adults in DC, and SWAC continues to advocate for this legislation. Decrim NY is working with New York State legislators to introduce a bill to rewrite the state’s penal code to decriminalize sex work.
Speakers: Sean Bland (O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center); Daniel Bruner (Whitman-Walker Health); Richard Saenz (Lambda Legal); Tristan Suillivan-Wilson (HIPS)