July 15, 2021
The first ever Sex Worker Human Rights Commission convened sex workers, physicians, politicians, advocates, academics, labor rights organizers, and others in Portland, OR. The commissioners presented evidence demonstrating the numerous reasons why decriminalization is crucial to protecting the human rights, health, and safety of sex workers and communities at large.
Oregon House Bill 3088 was introduced to the Oregon legislature in early February 2021 by State Representative Rob Nosse. HB3088 proposed the repeal of Oregon’s prostitution and prostitution-related criminal laws. 54% of polled Oregonians expressed support for the bill, but the House Judiciary Committee failed to bring the legislation to a vote. After participating in a legislative hearing for the bill, it became clear to Sex Worker Committee members that the public needed to be informed about the harms of the criminalization of sex work and the countless benefits of decriminalization. As a result, the Sex Worker Human Rights Committee convened advocates and community members from around the world to speak on the importance of decriminalization.
DSW’s legal director, Melissa Broudo, who is a member of the commission, said “We are at a critical moment nationally as state legislatures are finally considering the decriminalization of sex work. Certain states, such as Oregon, are sure to lead this progressive charge, and the convening of the Commission was a significant step towards the realization of that goal. It has been an honor to provide support to local organizing efforts and I stand alongside local sex workers to see the dream of decriminalization become a reality.”
The Commission is comprised of individuals with a vast array of experience and expertise on sex work. Its goals are: to dispel myths and stigma surrounding sex work; to help the public discern the difference between consensual adult sex work and human trafficking; to clarify the necessity for full decriminalization as opposed to other models that delegitimize the labor and experiences of sex workers; and, to advocate for and promote the human rights of sex workers. A number of these goals were achieved at the public hearing. In addition to the arguments and evidence presented by the commissioners, public commentary was invited. Audience members expressed their support for decriminalization. Many shared personal stories from their own experiences with sex work, or those of loved ones. Survivors of human trafficking also spoke about their experiences and their commitment to the decriminalization of consensual adult sex work to protect individuals involved in the sex trade from exploitation and abuse.
The full list of commissioners and supporters, along with a recording of the public hearing can be found here: https://www.oregonsexworkers.com.