Sex workers condemn proposals for FOSTA-style laws in the UK

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NSWP

NSWP joins sex worker-led organisations in the UK to condemn attempts to introduce FOSTA-style laws criminalising online platforms used by sex workers. On Wednesday 4th July, Sarah Champion MP and the APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade will host a Westminster Hall debate arguing for the UK to introduce new laws criminalising online platforms used by sex workers that ‘facilitate the sexual exploitation of women and girls’. Coverage of the debateshared by Sarah Champion on social media, specifically mentions Vivastreet and Adultwork, two of the largest sex work platforms used in the UK.

NSWP joins the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), Scot-Pep, Sex Workers Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM), Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) and the x:talk project in condemning any proposal to criminalise sex work or the online platforms used by sex workers for advertising, information sharing and safety. The negative impact of FOSTA-SESTA is already being felt by sex workers in the USA, and we strongly oppose any efforts to further criminalise sex workers through similar laws in the UK. 

The USA’s FOSTA-SESTA law was signed into law in April, introducing civil and criminal penalties for online platforms deemed to ‘promote or facilitate prostitution’. Sex workers have voiced serious concerns about the negative impact FOSTA-SESTA will have on their livelihoods and safety, by removing many sex workers’ sources of income and access to safety resources such as ‘bad date lists’. Survivors Against SESTA organised a day of action and mass lobby day on 2nd June to raise awareness about the impact of the law. Last week, a group of organisations and individuals submitted a federal lawsuit against FOSTA-SESTA, arguing that the overly broad terminology in the law is unconstitutional.

Organisations and individuals concerned about efforts to criminalise sex workers’ online platforms in the UK can take action by attending an emergency protest in Westminster on Wednesday, and by contacting UK Members of Parliament to ask them to oppose any effort to further criminalise sex workers’ livelihoods. Individuals in the UK can use this campaigning tool to email their MP.

The English Collective of Prostitutes has released a briefing for opposing a ban on sex workers advertising online, detailing the harms sex workers in the UK would face if such a law was introduced. They also point out that sex workers evidence was excluded from the recent APPG inquiry report on ‘pop-up brothels’, which informed Wednesday’s debate. The inquiry was condemned by SWARM, National Ugly Mugs and ECP when the call for evidence was released in October.