New Bill Proposes to Decriminalize Prostitution in DC
By Cathy Burke | NEWSMAX
If passed, the legislation would make the district the only U.S. jurisdiction to legalize prostitution outside some areas in Nevada.
“This is about protecting the human rights of our residents,” one of the bill’s sponsors, David Grosso, a progressive council member who also led the push to decriminalize marijuana in D.C., told the Post. “Arresting our way through this has never worked.”
According to the Post, activists say the bill would make it easier for sex workers to find other jobs and housing because they wouldn’t have prostitution-related arrests on their records — and they’d also be less reluctant to report crimes against them.
Transgender sex worker and activist Laya Monarez told the Post if sex work is decriminalized, workers would also feel more comfortable telling police about minors and other victims of sex trafficking.
“When the women build trust with the police, they keep your neighborhood safe, because their eyes are watching,” Monarez said. “They know the neighborhoods.”
Coercing people to engage in sex work against their will would remain illegal, as would any prostitution involving minors, the Post reported.
But unlike in the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal and regulated, sex work under the D.C. bill would be decriminalized but not legalized — meaning unregulated.
D.C. Council chair Phil Mendelson opposes the bill, which is also likely to face resistance from the GOP-controlled Congress, which has oversight of D.C. laws, the Post reported.
“We have amended the current law over the years to recognize that sex workers are often the victims of trafficking,” Mendelson said in a statement, the Post reported.
“Moreover, the penalties for first-time offenders are minor. But there is a great deal of collateral crime associated with prostitution, and it often presents a public nuisance. Accordingly, the district should not legalize this activity.”