Sex Worker Policy: Discussion

Given that the National Congress is coming up, I would like to start a couple of conversations about our policies and some suggested changes that might be made to them.

I think that the PPau should have a NZ model decriminalisation (wikipedia) of sex worker policy, which includes protections for the workers.

For those that would like more indepth discussion of various different approaches, there was an excellent New York Times article recently (long) Should Prostitution be a crime and a TED talk by a sex worker, The laws that sex workers really want.

It has been pointed out to me that this would fit nicely in with our policy of control over the body.


I generally agree with the approach. It seems to be very similar to the Laws in NSW as they exist now. Is there any difference between ‘the New Zealand model’ and the Laws in NSW? I just don’t want to be praising New Zealanders unnecessarily. >.>

The exact wording would need to be sorted out before Congress so it could be put to a vote.

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I agree, but with the caveat that sex work should be legalised rather than just decriminalised. As it’s only a line or two, feel free to draft something here and we’ll include it in the policy update already underway.


I disagree on legalisation.

Legalisation vs Decriminalisation definition:

under legalisation, sex work is controlled by the government and is legal only under certain state-specified conditions. Decriminalisation involves the removal of all prostitution-specific laws, although sex workers and sex work businesses must still operate within the laws of the land, as must any businesses.

The Scarlet Alliance make the excellent point that when there is a line of legality over which people can cross, there will be illegal sex work. The biggest issue with illegal sex work is that there are many cases when sex workers will be reticent to come forward to report greater crimes because of the work. People trafficked for sex or held against their will in a foreign country, on top of communication and isolation issues, will fear deportation, and will be further disempowered.

The Scarlet Alliance is made up of sex workers. Decriminalisation is their preferred end result. I think we should respect that.

Given that we are a party that has liberty as an ideal, adding Government intervention where it isn’t needed seems like a contradiction. Sex Work is a small business like any other. So long as they file their taxes and work within the law as per any other small business, I think they should be left alone.


I assumed MarkG wasn’t talking about regulation, but actual legalisation, which seems to be basically the same as decriminalisation as defined by the Scarlet Alliance.

Yep, I was just making clear the language of the issue for everyone. It is a fraught issue with lots of twists and turns.

Both NZ & NSW have a “decriminalized” model of sex work.

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Sex worker / adult industry person here:

While the terms legalization & decriminlzation may seem the same, interchangeable of like meaningless semantics, they are incredibly important.

1 Criminalization
Criminlazation (of workers, clients, or relating parties such as accountants, security, pa, landlords etc) is an extremely harmful model, obviously. It leads to endless human rights abuses, corruption, etc.

2 Legalization (‘regulation’)
Legalized model is what Victoria has, and many other places is the world. It is a harmful model. It means putting a lot of controlling, invasive, and unnecessary restrictions on sex workers, their families & communities. Legalization leads to things like:

Effectively making it illegal for sex workers to have Personal assistants, security, drivers or accountants.

Licencing schemes where governments of other agencies keep personal files & tabs on workers. This is a big invasion of privacy, especially considering the stigma, discrimination & abuse sex workers face even after leaving the industry.

Private premises and hotels booked by sex workers (so they have control & safety over space) classified as “illegal brothels”.

Licencing creates 2 tiered systems, making some workers vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, trafficking, etc.Dichotomies & hierarchies help no one.

Anything but decriminalization leaves the doors open for corruption, blackmail & other exploitation. Just look at the history of Australia’s Vice squad. When it’s easy for police to blackmail, abuse, coerce and be corrupt it happens, and when workers can’t trust police or feel safe things are bad.

3 Decriminalization
Decrim is the model supported by World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and other UN agencies, as well as recently Amnesty International. Alongside (and more importantly) sex workers’ themselves and the organizations run by & for them. As put by Amnesty (
Bolded emphasis is mine. This is one of the key differences between legalization & decriminalization)::

It does not mean the removal of laws that criminalize exploitation, human trafficking or violence against sex workers. These laws must remain and can and should be strengthened.

It does mean the removal of laws and policies criminalizing or penalizing sex work.

This includes laws and regulations related to selling and buying or organising sex work, such as solicitation, renting premises, “brothel keeping” and living off the proceeds of “prostitution”.

Note: Decriminalization doesn’t mean no control, regulations or standards for sex work. Things still exist like safe sex practices are always required, workplaces must be coercion free, basic OHS, it’s only acceptable to work if you have regular health testing and are free of STIs etc (although this creates discirimnation issues for HIV positive workers & clients alike, but thats a matter for another post). Decrim doesn’t mean no rules wild west bordellos.

4 Mixed message models
You may often hear about the “Nordic model” or “Swedish model”. It’s partially decriminalized (sex work isn’t illegal to perform) but it’s also partially illegal (illegal to purchase sexual services, rent to a sex worker, live off the earnings of sex work, etc). This model is very harmful. It masquerades as the best, safest option but throws sex workers under the bus.

Amnesty has a great write up of it’s policies on Decrim, why it’s the best, why they chose it, and all that jazz. It’s worth a read, and it’s the stance I have and suggest to anyone who values safety, agency & respect:


I’d also like to note that Porn isn’t something thats often talked about when it comes to politics but it damned well should be. If ya’ll like porn, want it’s production to be safe, ethical, and you want it all to be private… you should be very concerned about the way things are heading in AU.

Australia has a big indie / grass roots / ethical / ‘feminist’ porn scene, and many who work in the field are also sex workers. Not sure if you would want to cover adult media, it’s consumption, production &/or distribution in this topic, or it it’s best kept separate. Just thought I’d mention it.


In my very non-expert understanding porn is a form of sex work, as is stripping.

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It is a form of sex work performing, but generally it’s sale, consumption, production, & privacy relating to them all aren’t. Yet they overlap, heaps. Makes it awkward to find where / how to talk about it.


[quote=“aerynwalker, post:11, topic:817”]It is a form of sex work performing, but generally it’s sale, consumption, production, & privacy relating to them all aren’t. Yet they overlap, heaps. Makes it awkward to find where / how to talk about it

Let’s talk about it here and we can start another thread if we need to?

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I’m interested in what you would like to see enacted with regard to Porn/Adult Media in particular. I presume a roll back of all Harradine’s censorship laws? If you, Zahra, Light Southern, et al want to come up with some pointers, I’m sure we can accommodate.

As far as I can tell, I would suggest that the Pirate Party would find it easy to accept policies to this end.

We believe that there shouldn’t be any censorship. Which - regardless of the moralising that underlies such laws - is what bans on Porn are.

Consider me corrected on legalisation vs decriminalisation. For some reason I thought legalisation was the more liberal option.


Brilliant! I am much more enlightened over legalisation vs decriminalisation and the Scandinavian Model, I always thought they got most things right…obviously not.



I doubt there would be any real opposition for us adopting decriminalisation.

I suggest the following line be inserted into the civil liberties section of our platform. Under the control over the body section (Along with the right to an abortion as will be proposed). Once everyone is happy with the text, I will submit it for voting at the Congress.

Ensure that sex work is decriminalised

Is there anything else that needs to be included in the policy text itself?

I suspect a bit of an explanation should be added to the preamble, it will need updating with the addition of the right to an abortion anyway.

It is something we can look in to. I think it would probably be best to deal with it separately. If regulating porn is as complex as it sounds, we should maybe work on it for next years Congress. Time is running out and we like to have thoroughly researched policies.