Since its founding in 2018, Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) has worked with local organizations, advocates, and lobbyists to build community support and educate legislators on the critical need to decriminalize consensual adult sex work. DSW advocates for improved policies related to all forms of sex work and incremental measures that offer immediate material relief to sex workers and survivors of trafficking while increasing public health and safety.
In 2021, DSW advocates led a coalition that passed The START Act, expanding the range of crimes survivors of human trafficking can petition to expunge from their criminal records in New York.
In 2021, DSW participated in a coalition that advocated for the repeal of the Walking While Trans Ban in New York.
In 2021, DSW advocates passed an Immunity Law that allows sex workers and survivors of trafficking to seek justice or medical care when they are victims of, or witnesses to, crimes in New Hampshire.
In 2023, DSW advocates passed a new law in Vermont prohibiting law enforcement from engaging in investigatory sex, which along with the state’s prohibition on custodial sex, now comprises the country’s most comprehensive ban on police sexual violence.
In 2022, DSW advocates launched and passed a ballot referendum that removed a ban on prostitution from the city charter in Burlington, VT.
In 2022, DSW advocates passed a similar local ordinance in Montpelier, VT, the state capital.
In 2021, DSW advocates passed an Immunity Law that allows sex workers and survivors of trafficking to seek justice or medical care when they are victims of, or witnesses to, crimes in Vermont.
In 2023, DSW advocates drafted and passed an expansion of the patient bill of rights in Rhode Island which protects patients from discrimination based on their source of income, improving access to care for sex workers.
In 2023, DSW advocates supported testimony and finalization of the Rhode Island Study Commission on Marginalized Individuals, which culminated in a report recommending the decriminalization of prostitution.
In 2021, DSW advocates passed a law that created a legislative commission to study the effects of criminalizing prostitution in Rhode Island.
Specific ongoing legislative efforts include advocating for immunity legislation in New York and Rhode Island and the decriminalization of consensual adult sex work in New York and Vermont.
Public Education Successes
DSW is regularly contacted by the media for information and perspectives and has been successful in achieving positive coverage for the decriminalization of sex work in national media outlets. Staff regularly collaborate with local organizers to place influential op eds.
DSW’s report, “By the Numbers: New York’s Treatment of Sex Workers and Trafficking Survivors,” analyzed previously unexamined arrest data in New York to call attention to the fact that prostitution arrests in New York State overwhelmingly target women and people of color.
DSW has produced a catalog of briefing papers on the most salient issues related to the decriminalization of consensual adult sex work, which are available to all advocates and legislators. Additionally, DSW produces fact sheets, geared specifically toward legislators, to explain and facilitate specific reforms.
DSW regularly attends influential conferences to promote decriminalization to academics, legislators, and thought leaders.
DSW commissions polls to quantitatively demonstrate public support for decriminalizing consensual adult sex work.