Queensland Welcomes Decriminalisation of Sex Work

Organisations standing behind Queensland’s sex workers came out in force this week to support the Miles Government legislation to decriminalise sex work in Queensland. This Bill’s passage through Parliament saw the Queensland Parliament Gallery filled with sex workers and their supporters, who celebrated the progression of this landmark reform.

The proposed legislation is set to dismantle the longstanding criminalisation of sex worker safety strategies. “We thank the Queensland Government for recognising decriminalisation as essential to worker safety. With sex work no longer a criminal offence we look forward to a well-regulated industry where Workplace Health and Safety applies to every workplace and sex workers have access to industrial rights,” stated Lulu Holiday, State Coordinator of Respect Inc, Queensland’s sex worker organisation. The Bill also intends to eliminate the expensive and largely ineffective licensing system which regulated only sixteen brothels. According to Janelle Fawkes, DecrimQLD Campaign Leader, this is a necessary step toward making workplace regulations more comprehensive and fair.

Furthermore, the Bill has garnered support from Queensland Unions, emphasizing the necessity of equal work health and safety rights for all workers. “Queensland Unions stands with all workers to make sure they are safe and respected. Today’s reforms also mean that sex workers will have the same work health and safety and industrial rights as every other worker in our state, and will help ensure their safety, dignity and respect,” said Jacqueline King, Queensland Unions General Secretary.

Key motivations for the Bill include recommendations from the independent review by the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) and insights from the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce Report Two. The legislation seeks not to deregulate but to ensure that general laws and regulations uniformly apply to the sex industry as they do to other industries.

Decriminalisation is expected to usher in significant change while minimizing public impact. “Decriminalisation will be a life-changing policy shift for sex workers in Queensland and their families because it removes criminalisation. However, the rest of the Queensland community are unlikely to notice anything has changed,” commented Mish Pony, CEO of Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association. Such reforms are proposed to not only improve the operational standards and safety within the sex industry but also to challenge and gradually alter societal attitudes, reducing stigma and discrimination against sex workers.

This legislation marks a critical step towards aligning Queensland with both domestic and international best practices concerning the rights and safety of sex workers, as echoed by Jules Kim of the NSWP, Global Network of Sex Work Projects. As the Bill moves forward, it promises a more inclusive, fair, and safe working environment for all.