Victorian Parliament will debate the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill on Thursday 10th February 2022

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Description: This coming Thursday, 10 February 2022, the Victorian Parliament will debate the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021, originally tabled on 12 October 2021. This bill seeks to regulate the sex industry like any other service industry. This follows an August 2021 Victorian Government announcement to decriminalise sex work, a discussion paper and consultation period. The non profit organisation my friend Paul and I co-founded (Chrysalis Australia) made a submission to the review of the industry conducted by Fiona Patten the leader of the Reason Party in June 2020 based on our work in the transgender community and the very frustrating problems we ran into at every step of the way in developing and offering business services to the transgender and the wider Victorian community whilst staying on the right side of the law. We ended up doing volunteer film work (The Trans Showgirls events) because every other thing we wanted to do was far too risky given the current laws and for me in particular I was a federal government public servant at the time and I had to be especially careful on how I proceeded in private non government side work and even in my private life as the simple act of dating a transgender person could land me in hot water under the sex work laws if the person I was dating (a Thai citizen) was for instance to turn to sex work (which was very probable due to the big $$ on offer) and not adhere to the law (which is impossible to adhere to in it's current form and is different between states so my relationship would be problematic in South Australia for instance where I also needed to travel to work occasionally). I would have been rubbing shoulders with a criminal which I could not do (or be seen/be perceived to be doing) as a federal public servant. Our non profit work in the trans community together with our knowledge of the nightlife industry in Thailand and the Philippines gave us unique insight and understanding of the problems faced by transgender sex workers (and businesses employing these workers) both overseas and when they come to work here in Victoria. In particular we gained great insight into the problems we faced as a team when we grouped together to work which are almost all caused by outdated and not fit for purpose laws under the Sex Work Act 1994 (outdated not fit for purpose legislation which makes it impossible to comply with the law) , The Migration Act 1958 (cth), The Planning and Environment Act 1987 and other acts of law. Most forms of consensual adult sex work remain heavily criminalised in Victoria, driving most of the sex industry underground (which is why you see all those "pop up" brothels around Melbourne because it's much more profitable to run an illegal sex on premises business than a legal one because of the not fit for purpose laws). The end result is sex workers fearing police, businesses not able to offer legitimate legal services and the clients of sex workers having to be ever watchful on their activities in case they fall foul of the law as well. This repeal bill removes offences relating to consensual adult sex work, while maintaining police powers to crack down on organised crime, illicit drugs, human trafficking, child exploitation and bikie gang involvement in the sex industry. The debates and votes will be live streamed from the Victorian Parliament website. I encourage in particular those of you I know that are working in the sex industry in Victoria to watch this debate. The outcome of this is really very important. A large amount of time and effort has gone into this bill by a lot of individuals and umbrella organisations both not for profit and for profit that have contributed to it as well as by Fiona Patten the leader of the Reason Party who has been tasked with the job of conducting the review and making recommendations to the government on how the industry should be regulated. This is world leading legislation developed right here in Victoria that will improve the lives and safety of people working in the industry and the wider community and will make Victoria a better place. Date: Thursday 10 February 2022. Time: 10am onwards. Debate may go well into the evening. Times are Australian Eastern Standard Time (Melbourne time) Live Stream Link: (choose the Legislative Council option)