Regional updates: North America and the Caribbean
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:
Last weekend in Halifax at their biannual national convention, the Liberal Party voted yes to a resolution for consensual sex work decriminalisation. The resolution was presented by the party’s youth caucus, the Young Liberals of Canada, and is part of several resolutions that push for a more progressive Liberal Party. The Liberal Party are currently the largest party in Canadian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Trudeau.
Efforts to resist the closing of strip clubs in the US are ongoing. Recent police raids have prompted a spotlight on New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) in recent months, as NOLA-based sex workers speak out against “tough on crime” politics affecting their right to work safely.
On 27th February, the House of Representatives passed a new Bill affecting sex workers in the United States: H.R. 1865 [Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017], known as 'FOSTA'. This bill makes it a federal crime for online platform providers to 'facilitate sex trafficking', also criminalising the users of these sites.
A little more than a year ago, Romina Rosales, a Latin migrant 43-year-old sex worker, started “Queens of the Underworld”, a non-profit organisation based in L.A., California. According to their website, the organisation “provides community for women-identifying and femme sex workers that serves as a resource for learning coping-skills and self-care”.