October 13, 2022
DSW Legal Director Melissa Broudo and Staff Attorney Becca Cleary traveled to Puerto Rico to participate in the 13th biennial conference hosted by the National Harm Reduction Coalition (NHRC). The NHRC describes its gathering as “… the only conference of its kind in the United States. For four days, some of the most creative minds from the U.S. and abroad come together to address a myriad of complex issues facing the harm reduction movement.” The conference attracts advocates, activists, service providers, legislators, researchers, public health officials, and law enforcement interested in working towards a more just and equitable society and reducing the harms caused by structural violence, racialized policies, and the failed war on drugs.
Ceyenne Doroshow, Melissa Broudo, and Ciora Thomas discuss decriminalization.
Cleary and Broudo staffed a booth at the conference to connect with and educate attendees about the urgent need to decriminalize consensual adult sex work. The decriminalization of sex work is a core tenet of the harm reduction movement and shares many of its principals. The NHRC says that “advocating for legislation that protects sex workers rights is central to our mission.”
Broudo joined Ceyenne Doroshow, an author, activist, organizer, performer, and public figure in the trans and sex worker rights movements, and Ciora Thomas, founder and director of Sisters PGH, a trans rights housing organization in Pittsburgh, for a panel discussion. They explored the intersection of trans liberation and the decriminalization of prostitution, specifically from the perspective of two Black trans leaders with lived experience in the industry. The panel was both poignant and filled with humor, discussing topics such as housing, education, trans rights, sex work and human trafficking, and the intersections of various identities. Because this was the National Harm Reduction Conference, trans liberation and decriminalization of sex work were discussed within a harm reduction and human rights framework.