Sex Work Finally Decriminalised in QLD After Decades of Campaigning

Sex Work Finally Decriminalised in QLD After Decades of Campaigning

After years of campaigning, sex work has officially been decriminalised in Queensland!

Queensland parliament passed the historic legislation on Thursday evening, with sex workers watching on from the gallery as MPs voted for the bill to pass.

Prior to this change in legislation, sex workers were able to operate in Queensland, but only as private sex workers (so as sole traders, with no worker protections), or through brothels. However, in the entire state, less than two-dozen licensed brothels operate today.

Now, by decriminalising sex work, sex workers can operate with safer conditions, with the new laws regulating sex work as it would any other business: with legal planning and regulations, and workplace health and safety rules.

Several organisations who have been campaigning for decriminalisation across Australia for years, such as the Scarlet Alliance, celebrated the win for Queensland workers. 

State coordinator of Respect Inc and sex worker Lulu Holiday told the Guardian that it had been “stressful” and “traumatic” at times, trying to work under the state’s previous criminalisation laws.

Holiday said that she had managed to avoid any charges, but emphasised the treatment she had witnessed of other sex workers throughout Queensland.

“I do know many people that have been criminalised, have had multiple charges against them, have been threatened with deportation, been absolutely harassed and abused by police under these laws,” she said.

Mish Pony, sex worker and Scarlet Alliance CEO,  said the legislation establishes much-needed anti-discrimination protections for sex workers.

“Anti-discrimination protections provide an avenue for redress and sends a message to the community that discrimination against sex workers is not acceptable,” they said.

Opposition casts their doubts over industry

However, while Labor and Greens and independent MPs celebrated the win with Queensland sex workers, shadow Attorney General Tim Nicholls expressed his doubt, saying he felt it was unclear how sex work would be regulated, and saying he felt it could become a neighbourly “nuisance”.

“While the intention might be to treat sex work businesses just like any other, the reality is that very many people in the community do not regard it as just another business,” he said.

Opposition calls for Nordic Model of sex work

Both Nicholls and opposition MP Mark Robinson said the Nordic model should be implemented instead. The Nordic model still essentially criminalises sex work, but clients and third parties like managers facing charges instead of the worker.

The theory claims that doing this will reduce demand in the sex trade, thereby “freeing” sex workers. The overarching theory refers to all sex workers as victims without agency – which is not factually correct. You can learn more about the Nordic Model vs. Decriminalisation here

Sex worker orgs mostly disagree with Nordic Model

Countless sex work organisations, both in Australia and overseas, disagree that the Nordic model does not actually work, and adamantly protest against its implementation here in Australia instead of decriminalisation. 


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Labor MP Chris Whiting rebuffed the opposition’s calls to implement the Nordic model, saying, “nowhere else in Australia is going down that path”.

LNP would “face the union movement” if decrim is repealed

The Queensland Council of Unions general secretary, Jacqueline King, said if the LNP were to win the election in October and repeal the decriminalisation laws, they would “face the united union movement along with the sex work industry”.

“This is about actually ensuring equal health and safety rights, equal industrial rights for sex workers,” she said.

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3 responses to “Sex Work Finally Decriminalised in QLD After Decades of Campaigning”

  1. So in October the LNP might win government in qld and then repeal and undo all this – so why is the Qld Labor government doing this now? Very odd, weird and strange timing I must say…

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