Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I can't attend - but if anyone else can make it...

Iemma and Sartor are reversing the decriminalisation of the sex industry in NSW by introducing harsh and discriminatory laws that will oversee eviction of private workers from their homes, power and electricity cut off from non-Council approved brothels, and the Land and Environment Court hearing applications aiming to render entire sections of neighbourhoods 'sex industry free.'

The Bill was introduced to parliament late on Wednesday night and was rushed through the Legislative Assembly on Friday. This is the only opportunity to stop this retrograde step in the Upper House.

Saunas, performance venues, burlesque, any venue that allows nudity could be subject to the new laws.

Please join us and show your support
on the steps of Parliament House, Macquarie Street,
Tuesday 26th June, 2007
12.30pm – dress in red

Legislation that will have significant negative outcomes for sex workers, men who have sex with men, strip clubs, night clubs and pubs that have performance including nudity, and other sexually active members of the community is being rushed through Parliament under the disguise of an "Illegal Brothel Bill." There has been no consultation on the new laws.
The new laws are called the Brothel Bill, however this disguises the fact that it is individuals, and individual sex workers, NOT commercial brothels, that will bear the brunt of this legislation.

The definition of brothel in NSW is anywhere that prostitution takes place. Therefore the homes of individual sex workers, home occupation businesses, strip clubs that cater to sexual contact, and massage parlours premises are all incorrectly determined to be brothels.
For sex workers this means a return to the pre-decriminalisation days when pay-offs were essential. Back then sex industry regulators were the police. The new regulators are councils. If these laws go through, Councils will have the power to make sex workers homeless, without any requirement to listen to sex workers concerns or provide alternative housing…. This is an explicit removal of natural justice.

Right now ICAC (Independent Commission Against on Corruption) is considering allegations of council corruption, including pay offs by sex industry, and a report into council corruption in relation to the sex industry is likely to come out this year. Yet the Government is rushing through laws that significantly increase Council powers, dramatically lessen the need for proof, allow action based on only one complaint, and introduce changes that mean anywhere sex work takes place, even as a one off can be effected.

The proposed law includes – - Removal of natural justice - Reversal of the onus of proof. - Council will have the power to have amenities like phone and power turned off and a fining regime implemented. - A Court may determine a place was a brothel without any direct evidence and may accept circumstantial evidence. - A new definition of "sex related uses" in the "Environmental Planning and Assessment Act" includes all premises where nudity and money are involved: clubs, performance venues, and art spaces will be effected.

- Instead of councils needed to receive "sufficient complaints about the brothel" prior to taking action, Councils can now take closure action after only one complaint.

- An owner of a apartment building where a private sex worker is working can be subject to these new laws. A defense for the owner is to evict the sex worker. The Local Council is exempt from the EPA Act S121G. If an EPA "order" is likely to make a person homeless, usually there must be appropriate support to find the person another home. In the case of "Brothel Closure Orders" the person will receive no support.

- As the definition of brothel still includes one person working as a sex worker in their own home the increased Council power including acting on only 1 complaint and without the need to prove prostitution takes place.

The Legislation: http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/library/nswgov_2007 Steve Whan hansard from Wednesday night, tabling the bill

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