A bill in Albany would decriminalize sex work throughout the state of New York if passed, making it not a crime to solicit oneself for money. According to Spectrum News 1, lawmakers are considering the bill as some have cited that criminalizing sex work has “tied up” the justice system with “a victimless crime.” Advocates for the bill have also argued that it would increase safety for sex workers who are “just doing their job.”
Decriminalization is not the same as legalization which would require a regulatory framework to be put in place. Legalized prostitution only exists in other countries and the state of Nevada right now, in which cases sex workers are licensed. Still, advocates say decriminalization would help sex workers live a better life by providing them with better housing and medical care.
The bill, which is being sponsored by Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, a Democrat from Queens, explained that there have been so many raids on massage parlors and places in the community where sex workers are targeted. She shared that in her community in Jackson Heights, the sex workers are mostly undocumented transgender women.
Advocate for the bill SX Noir said that the measure to decriminalize sex work goes beyond eliminating police raids, and helps protect sex workers from being subjected to abuse or assault. Noir explained that right now if sex workers are assaulted, they cannot seek legal punishment because of their status as sex workers since prostitution is a criminal act in the state of New York, but if decriminalized, they would be able to seek help.
As the state of New York continues to diminish its appeal to many, the addition of decriminalized sex work would add to the challenges of living in the state for those who still remain. Although this bill is still only being considered, even the possibility of it passing might still be seen as alarming to some.