The United States this week announced that they had passed 1.2 million recorded COVID-19 cases, and nearly 70,000 deaths. Despite these somber milestones, the country has been divided between those eager to get back to ‘business as usual’ and those who wish the lockdown to remain in effect. Left out of this debate are the sex workers who have had no choice but to continue working due to their exclusion from any government relief package.
Regional updates: North America and the Caribbean
Lorena Borjas – a pillar of New York City’s Latinx LGBTQ community, and a staunch defender of the rights of trans people, Latinx people, and sex workers – died on Monday 30th March of complications from COVID-19.
A group of 72 LGBTI organisations have delivered a letter to 13 members of the Washington D.C. City Council calling on them to support an upcoming Bill which would decriminalise sex work in the district.
More than 130 organisations from across Canada have signed on to a statement calling on the new government to implement 'the total decriminalization of sex work as a first step to protecting and respecting the human rights of all sex workers' and the 'recognition of sex work as meaningful and valuable work'.
A new coalition is calling for the decriminalisation of sex work in New York. Decrim NY was officially launched at the end of February, led by people in the sex trades "whether through choice, circumstance, or coercion".
A Senator in San Francisco, California, has announced new legislation to protect sex workers from arrest when they report a serious or violent crime.
On 28th June, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, Human Rights Watch, The Internet Archive, and two individuals have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, 2017).
Sex worker organisations have been negatively impacted since FOSTA-SESTA was passed in April, with Desiree Alliance announcing it has cancelled its 2019 conference in light of the risks the law has created for sex workers. The statement on their website reads: