Rhode Island Introduces Legislation Aimed at Protecting Sex Workers

March 8, 2021

DSW is pleased to be working with allies in Rhode Island on four bills critical to the health and safety of sex workers and communities as a whole! DSW’s Melissa Broudo and J. Leigh Oshiro-Brantly testified in support of the resolution and bills listed below.


House Resolution 5250: “Creating a special legislative commission to study ensuring racial equity and optimizing health and safety laws affecting marginalized individuals” was introduced on January 29 and the House Health & Human Services Committee recommended after a hearing on February 25 that the measure be held for future study. The resolution would create a special legislative commission to make a comprehensive study and provide recommendations on the health and safety impact of revising laws related to commercial sexual activity, identifying the methods of human trafficking and exploitation to develop strategies to reduce these activities, and ensuring accountability in the treatment of marginalized and targeted communities by police. The resolution is a response to laws that disproportionately impact women, transgender individuals, and people of color; to the documented increase in exploitation and violence against people in the sex industry in Rhode Island since the passage of federal legislation SESTA/FOSTA; and to the need to ensure justice and accountability in the way Rhode Island laws impact the state’s citizens.

Sponsors: Williams, Ajello, Vella-Wilkinson, Alzate, Henries, Morales

bill text


House Bill 5467: “An act relating to criminal offenses - criminal sexual activity” was introduced on February 10. After a hearing on March 9, the House Judiciary Committee recommended the measure be held for further study. The act would grant immunity from prosecution to people engaged in commercial sexual activity if they report to law enforcement that they are victims of or witnesses to a crime, ensuring that they feel safe in coming forward to report crimes and are able to report exploitation or violence committed against others.

Sponsors: Williams, Messier, Ajello, Slater, Felix, Alzate

bill text


House Bill 5464: “An act relating to health and safety - licensing of healthcare facilities” was introduced on February 10 and after a hearing on March 8, the House Health & Human Services Committee recommended the bill for further study. The act would prevent healthcare facilities from denying care to patients based on their age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, national origin, source of income, and source of payment or profession.

Sponsors: Williams, Messier, Ajello, Vella-Wilkinson, Felix, Alzate

bill text


House Bill 6049 and Senate Bill 249: “An act relating to criminal offenses - sexual assault” would create a new criminal offense of “custodial sexual assault,” which occurs when a peace officer perpetrates a sexual assault while the victim is in their custody. The senate bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 10. The house bill was introduced on March 3, and the House Judiciary Committee recommended the measure be held for further study after a hearing on March 9.

Senate Sponsors: Bell, Calkin, Murray, Anderson, Goldin, Quezada, Cano, Mendes, Valverde, Acosta

House Sponsors: Henries, Felix, Hull, Lombardi, Kazarian, Cassar, Batista

bill text (senate)
bill text (house)

DSW Newsletter #24 (March 2021)

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Rhode Island Introduces Legislation Aimed at Protecting Sex Workers

March 8, 2021 DSW is pleased to be working with allies in Rhode Island on four bills critical to the health and safety of sex workers and communities as a...
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Rhode Island Introduces Legislation Aimed at Protecting Sex Workers

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