“Stealthing” Bill Passes in VT

April 23, 2024

Vermont legislatures passed a bill that creates civil recourse for victims of stealthing — the nonconsensual removal or tampering with a condom during sex.

H. 40 would allow someone who has experienced stealthing to sue the perpetrator in civil court for damages. Right now, as is mostly the case around the country, there is nothing a victim of stealthing can do to hold the perpetrator accountable.

Rep. Barbara Rachelson, who sponsored the bill, modeled the bill after a similar one that passed in California in 2021.

An earlier version of the Vermont bill would have allowed officials to bring criminal charges, but legislators agreed that removing that provision made the bill more likely to pass. Additionally, this also avoids re-traumatizing survivors in a criminal case that requires a higher burden of proof.

Rep. Rachelson provided the following information in support of the bill:

House Bill 40: Nonconsensual Removal or Tampering with a Sexual Protective Device (commonly referred to as ‘stealthing’)

‘Stealthing’ is defined as the nonconsensual removal of a condom during sexual intercourse. Despite limited legal acknowledgement, stealthing is fairly common, causing physical and mental harm to its victims.

‘Stealthing’ turns consensual intercourse (i.e. sex with a condom) into nonconsensual intercourse (i.e. sex without a condom); therefore, sexual violence prevention experts often classify ‘stealthing’ as a form of sexual assault. Unprotected sex increases the risks of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Victims of ‘stealthing’ often report emotional distress due to feelings of being violated and anxiety related to increased risks of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

DSW Newsletter #53 (April 2024)

DSW Advocates Testify Around the Country

April 4, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) advocates testified in front of the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee in support of four bills critical to improving health and safety for sex...
Read More
DSW Advocates Testify Around the Country

DSW Participates in Equality New York’s Lobby Day

April 17, 2024 Equality New York (EQNY), a grassroots advocacy organization that advances the human rights of all LGBTQI+ New Yorkers and their families, held their annual advocacy day in Albany....
Read More
DSW Participates in Equality New York’s Lobby Day

Reason Hosts San Francisco Event With Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Decriminalize Sex Work

March 27, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) co-hosted an event in San Francisco with Reason on the decriminalization of sex work. The event was a fireside chat with Elizabeth Nolan Brown,...
Read More
Reason Hosts San Francisco Event With Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Decriminalize Sex Work

“Stealthing” Bill Passes in VT

April 23, 2024 Vermont legislatures passed a bill that creates civil recourse for victims of stealthing — the nonconsensual removal or tampering with a condom during sex. H. 40 would allow...
Read More
“Stealthing” Bill Passes in VT

DSW Newsletter Archive

DSW Participates in Equality New York’s Lobby Day

April 17, 2024

Equality New York (EQNY), a grassroots advocacy organization that advances the human rights of all LGBTQI+ New Yorkers and their families, held their annual advocacy day in Albany. The three priority bills that advocacy day centered were:

Gender Identity Respect Dignity and Safety Act (Salazar S2860 & Rozic A709A)
This bill relates to the treatment and placement of incarcerated people based upon gender identity.

Immunity from Prosecution for Sex Workers and Survivors of Trafficking (Sepúlveda S1966 & Kelles A7471)
This bill encourages victims of human trafficking and sex workers who experience or witness crime to report their experience without fear of being prosecuted for prostitution.

The Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act (SVSTA) (Salazar S4396 & Forrest A8605)
This bill would decriminalize consensual adult sex work.
As part of the Advocacy Day, DSW Legal Director Melissa Broudo spoke at a  press conference highlighting the intersectionality of LGBTQI rights and sex workers’ rights and also participated in a panel on decriminalization alongside advocates from Make the Road NY, Ali Forney Center, New Pride Agenda, and CUNY Law.

DSW Newsletter #53 (April 2024)

DSW Advocates Testify Around the Country

April 4, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) advocates testified in front of the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee in support of four bills critical to improving health and safety for sex...
Read More
DSW Advocates Testify Around the Country

DSW Participates in Equality New York’s Lobby Day

April 17, 2024 Equality New York (EQNY), a grassroots advocacy organization that advances the human rights of all LGBTQI+ New Yorkers and their families, held their annual advocacy day in Albany....
Read More
DSW Participates in Equality New York’s Lobby Day

Reason Hosts San Francisco Event With Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Decriminalize Sex Work

March 27, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) co-hosted an event in San Francisco with Reason on the decriminalization of sex work. The event was a fireside chat with Elizabeth Nolan Brown,...
Read More
Reason Hosts San Francisco Event With Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Decriminalize Sex Work

“Stealthing” Bill Passes in VT

April 23, 2024 Vermont legislatures passed a bill that creates civil recourse for victims of stealthing — the nonconsensual removal or tampering with a condom during sex. H. 40 would allow...
Read More
“Stealthing” Bill Passes in VT

DSW Newsletter Archive

DSW Advocates Testify Around the Country

April 4, 2024

Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) advocates testified in front of the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee in support of four bills critical to improving health and safety for sex workers and survivors of trafficking. DSW Legal Director Melissa Broudo, Community Liaison Henri Bynx, Staff Attorney Rebecca Cleary, and Volunteer Attorney Alison Kolins joined advocates, including representatives from the ACLU and Amnesty International, to ensure legislators have the facts necessary to make sound decisions.

They testified in support of the following bills:

S2225, “An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government – Corrections Department”
S2225 repeals provisions that assess additional fees to those convicted of prostitution-related offenses and repeals the crime of loitering for prostitution. An arrest already creates numerous financial hardships and adding a significant additional financial burden to someone who is arrested can be devastating. This bill also repeals Rhode Island’s “Loitering for prostitution” law. Loitering for prostitution laws have been repealed in New York, California, and Seattle, Washington, citing evidence that these statutes are disproportionately enforced against communities of color and transgender people. Because the law is constructed so vaguely, it allows law enforcement to rely on their assessment of an individual’s appearance when determining if they are in a public place for the purpose of prostitution. Biases greatly influence their judgment. This leads to unnecessary criminalization of communities that are already marginalized. Additionally, this statute is rarely utilized: according to law enforcement reporting on arrests required by Rhode Island law, there have only been two arrests for loitering for prostitution over the past 15 years.

S2441, “An Act Relating to Criminal Offenses – Commercial Sexual Activity”
S2441 grants immunity from arrest and prosecution for certain prostitution crimes to victims and witnesses of crime who report that crime to law enforcement, aid in the investigation of that crime, and/or seek healthcare services in relation to the crime. Immunity protections create an important tool for law enforcement in their efforts to identify and prosecute perpetrators of violence and trafficking. People involved in the sex trade are especially vulnerable to violence and exploitation — but frequently do not report crimes perpetrated against them because they fear arrest. When abusers are not discovered by law enforcement, they are able to continue violence and exploitation with impunity. Thus, immunity policies serve a dual purpose: they allow victims and witnesses of crime to safely seek the services they need, and they provide invaluable tools for law enforcement investigating crimes including human trafficking, assault, and murder. Nine states have recently enacted their own immunity laws, and three other states are considering similar legislation this year. Individuals and organizations with a breadth of priorities and experiences have openly supported these policies across the country. Trafficking survivors, advocates, sex workers, prosecutors, and police departments, among others, have voice support. To make communities safer, it is in the public interest to encourage victims of crime to come forward, aid law enforcement, and receive needed medical care.

S2442, “An Act Relating to Health and Safety – Prevention and Suppression of Contagious Diseases – HIV/AIDS”
S2442 ensures that optional HIV testing is provided to those convicted of commercial sexual activity. Existing law requires all persons convicted under any commercial sexual activity statute to be tested for HIV and authorizes healthcare providers to test them without consent. S2442 maintains existing access to HIV testing, counseling, and treatment for persons convicted of commercial sexual activity but ensures that testing cannot be done without consent. Mandated testing can create additional time and financial burdens after arrest. Those burdens are especially unnecessary for those who may already know their status and receive treatment, which is an unnecessary use of state resources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization both recommend that testing for HIV never be mandatory, including within vulnerable populations. The principle of informed consent ensures that individuals have agency in their healthcare decisions and leads to better healthcare outcomes because patients are more comfortable seeking care. Under this proposed law, all persons convicted of commercial sexual activity will be provided with an opportunity to be tested for HIV, which maintains the purpose of the existing law — to connect at-risk individuals with critical services.

S2934, “An Act Related to Criminal Offenses – Commercial Sexual Activity”
S2934 would decriminalize consensual adult sex work. Extensive research and evidence shows that decriminalizing sex work will help end human trafficking, improve public health, and promote community safety. Last year, the “Special Legislative Study Commission Ensuring Racial Equity and Optimizing Health and Safety Laws Affecting Marginalized Individuals” specifically recommended that Rhode Island legislators ensure that “private, consensual sexual activity remains out of the reach of criminal laws.” The commission found that the criminalization of sex work “fuels stigma and discrimination against sex workers, which impedes their access to basic necessities, including healthcare, housing, and other social services.” This bill would repeal all commercial sexual activity laws while leaving laws against human trafficking intact, bolstering anti-trafficking efforts around the state. Prostitution laws make it difficult for victims and witnesses to report exploitation without risking prosecution. They also direct law enforcement resources towards arresting consenting adults, limiting their ability to focus on human trafficking. Additionally, when commercial sexual activity is illegal, it continues to happen — but that criminalization leads to unsafe conditions.

This is a critical moment to address the harm caused by the criminalization of sex work. S2934 will create immediate meaningful change for affected communities by addressing a major contributor to mass incarceration, giving sex workers the freedom to support themselves and their families without fear of violence or exploitation, and fostering an environment that allows victims of trafficking to seek safety without risk of arrest. It also has precedent: between 1980 and 2009, indoor prostitution was legal in Rhode Island. During that time period, there was a significant decline in sexually transmitted diseases and sexual assaults within the state.

Staff Attorney Rebecca Cleary traveled to Baton Rouge, LA, to testify before the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee, on HB 631, known as the Justice for Survivors Act. The bill narrowly lost, but HB 631 would have created new sentencing guidelines for victims of trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault who are convicted of a crime related to their victimization. Additionally, it would have allowed currently incarcerated victims to apply for a resentencing hearing under the new guidelines. Cleary testified specifically about how frequently trafficking victims are coerced into committing crimes by their traffickers.

Henri Bynx testifies before the RI Senate Judiciary Committee.

DSW’s Henri Bynx testifies before the RI Senate Judiciary Committee.

DSW’s Rebecca Cleary testifies before the RI Senate Judiciary Committee.

DSW’s Rebecca Cleary testifies before the RI Senate Judiciary Committee.

Advocates from DSW, The Ishtar Collective, and Amnesty International gather after appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Advocates from DSW, The Ishtar Collective, and Amnesty International gather after appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

DSW’s Rebecca Cleary testifies before the LA House Administration Criminal Justice Committee.

DSW’s Rebecca Cleary testifies before the LA House Administration Criminal Justice Committee.

DSW Newsletter #53 (April 2024)

DSW Advocates Testify Around the Country

April 4, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) advocates testified in front of the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee in support of four bills critical to improving health and safety for sex...
Read More
DSW Advocates Testify Around the Country

DSW Participates in Equality New York’s Lobby Day

April 17, 2024 Equality New York (EQNY), a grassroots advocacy organization that advances the human rights of all LGBTQI+ New Yorkers and their families, held their annual advocacy day in Albany....
Read More
DSW Participates in Equality New York’s Lobby Day

Reason Hosts San Francisco Event With Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Decriminalize Sex Work

March 27, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) co-hosted an event in San Francisco with Reason on the decriminalization of sex work. The event was a fireside chat with Elizabeth Nolan Brown,...
Read More
Reason Hosts San Francisco Event With Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Decriminalize Sex Work

“Stealthing” Bill Passes in VT

April 23, 2024 Vermont legislatures passed a bill that creates civil recourse for victims of stealthing — the nonconsensual removal or tampering with a condom during sex. H. 40 would allow...
Read More
“Stealthing” Bill Passes in VT

DSW Newsletter Archive

Reason Hosts San Francisco Event With Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Decriminalize Sex Work

March 27, 2024

Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) co-hosted an event in San Francisco with Reason on the decriminalization of sex work. The event was a fireside chat with Elizabeth Nolan Brown, a senior editor at Reason magazine who covers sex, technology, bodily autonomy, law, and online culture. The chat was moderated by DSW Political Director Rob Kampia, who introduced Brown to the audience and led her in a discussion on the difference between legalization and decriminalization, the impact of FOSTA/SESTA, and what the public gets wrong when it comes to preventing trafficking. Two philanthropists graciously hosted the event at their house in San Francisco.

Reason is an American libertarian monthly magazine published by Reason Foundation that produces independent journalism that they describe as being “outside of the left/right echo chamber.” Libertarianism is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as a core value. The American Libertarian Party strongly opposes government interference in personal, family, and business decisions. In other words, libertarians believe that Americans should be free to live their lives as they see fit as long as they do not cause harm to another person. Due to these tenets, libertarians support the decriminalization of consensual adult sex work.

In recent years, discussions surrounding the approach to sex work in the United States have increasingly permeated mainstream media. Notably, Elizabeth Nolan Brown of Reason stands out as one of the rare journalists who approaches this complex issue with intellectual rigor, relying on data and research rather than moral bias. We encourage you to read Reason’s latest coverage on sex work and subscribe to Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s biweekly Sex & Tech Newsletter for the most comprehensive reporting on issues relating to sex work.

DSW would like to thank the team at Reason for their leadership in planning this enlightening and wonderful event, Elizabeth Nolan Brown for lending her time and expertise to the discussion, and our gracious hosts who opened their home to us for the evening.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown discusses the decriminalization of sex work with moderator Rob Kampia.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown discusses the decriminalization of sex work with moderator Rob Kampia.

DSW Newsletter #53 (April 2024)

DSW Advocates Testify Around the Country

April 4, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) advocates testified in front of the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee in support of four bills critical to improving health and safety for sex...
Read More
DSW Advocates Testify Around the Country

DSW Participates in Equality New York’s Lobby Day

April 17, 2024 Equality New York (EQNY), a grassroots advocacy organization that advances the human rights of all LGBTQI+ New Yorkers and their families, held their annual advocacy day in Albany....
Read More
DSW Participates in Equality New York’s Lobby Day

Reason Hosts San Francisco Event With Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Decriminalize Sex Work

March 27, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) co-hosted an event in San Francisco with Reason on the decriminalization of sex work. The event was a fireside chat with Elizabeth Nolan Brown,...
Read More
Reason Hosts San Francisco Event With Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Decriminalize Sex Work

“Stealthing” Bill Passes in VT

April 23, 2024 Vermont legislatures passed a bill that creates civil recourse for victims of stealthing — the nonconsensual removal or tampering with a condom during sex. H. 40 would allow...
Read More
“Stealthing” Bill Passes in VT

DSW Newsletter Archive

Strippers Fight for Long Overdue Rights in WA

March 25, 2024

Following years of advocacy and organizing, Strippers Are Workers, based in Washington, is celebrating a major victory. SB6105, known as the Stripper’s Bill of Rights, was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee. The bill provides the most comprehensive statewide protections in the country. Previously the state with the most stringent restrictions, including a complete ban on alcohol sales in clubs, will become the most progressive in terms of ensuring the health and safety of dancers and patrons.

“Strippers are workers, and they should be given the same rights and protections as any other labor force,” bill sponsor Sen. Rebecca Saldaña of Seattle, said in a news release. “If they are employed at a legal establishment in Washington, they deserve the safeguards that every worker is entitled to, including protection from exploitation, trafficking, and abuse.”

The Stripper Bill of Rights will:
• Allow clubs to sell alcohol
• Eliminate back rent practices (indebting dancers to clubs)
• Regulate high dancer house fees
• Mandate training for club employees
• Require clubs to hire adequate security staff
• Require panic buttons
• Provide anti-discrimination protections
• Limit fees clubs can charge dancers

Strippers around the country, including in New York and California, have organized to fight for their rights and fair labor practices. Despite their advocacy, Illinois is the only other state that has enacted protections for workers in adult entertainment.

Listen to a piece from NPR’s All Things Considered on the bill here. DSW Communications Director Ariela Moscowitz provided background and commentary.

Strippers Are Workers

image courtesy of strippersareworkers.org

DSW Newsletter #52 (February/March 2024)

DSW Advocates Testify on Crucial Bills in RI

March 20, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) staff members are busier than ever. Within the span of just a few weeks, staff members testified at three different hearings in front of...
Read More
DSW Advocates Testify on Crucial Bills in RI

DSW Organizes Immunity Advocacy Day in Albany

February 27, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) gathered elected officials, advocates, sex worker rights activists, and survivors of trafficking to urge the New York State Legislature to pass S1966 (Sepulveda) /...
Read More
DSW Organizes Immunity Advocacy Day in Albany

Strippers Fight for Long Overdue Rights in WA

March 25, 2024 Following years of advocacy and organizing, Strippers Are Workers, based in Washington, is celebrating a major victory. SB6105, known as the Stripper’s Bill of Rights, was signed into...
Read More
Strippers Fight for Long Overdue Rights in WA

In Loving Memory of Cecilia Gentili

March 5, 2024 It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Cecilia Gentili, a beloved transgender actress, author, activist, and icon who passed away at the age of...
Read More
In Loving Memory of Cecilia Gentili

DSW Newsletter Archive

DSW Advocates Testify on Crucial Bills in RI

March 20, 2024

Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) staff members are busier than ever. Within the span of just a few weeks, staff members testified at three different hearings in front of the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee. Ensuring that legislators have the most compelling, accurate evidence to support laws that would decrease trafficking and increase public health and safety has never been more important.

DSW advocates testified in support of the following proposed legislation:

Immunity Legislation

H7165 | S2441

This bill provides immunity from arrest and prosecution for commercial sexual activity to victims or witnesses reporting a crime to law enforcement or seeking healthcare services related to a crime. It would encourage victims and witnesses of crime to come forward, aid law enforcement, and receive needed medical care, without fearing the many harms of a prostitution conviction. If passed, this would be one of the most comprehensive and protective bills of its kind.

Court Cost Reform

H7452S2225

This bill removes extra fines that are assessed only to people convicted of commercial sexual activity. Those extra fines create a purposeless financial burden for those facing commercial sexual activity charges, which already carry penalties ranging from $250-$1000 or more for subsequent offenses. The bill also repeals Rhode Island’s loitering for prostitution law. Loitering for prostitution laws have been repealed in New York, California, and Seattle, Washington, citing evidence that these statutes are disproportionately enforced against communities of color and transgender people. There have only been two loitering arrests in the past 15 years.

HIV Decriminalization

H7219 | S2442

This bill repeals a law that makes HIV testing mandatory for anyone arrested for commercial sexual activity, regardless of whether they consent to testing. Testing would instead be voluntary, and all services provided under the existing law would stay in place. This modernization of Rhode Island’s HIV testing protocol is in line with CDC and WHO recommendations and would reduce stigmatization of both sex work and HIV.

Bans Against Police Sexual Violence

H7833 | S2651

This bill would make it a crime for law enforcement officers to engage in sexual penetration with people in custody or otherwise under law enforcement supervision. Rhode Island is currently only one of five states in the country that has no law of this kind on the books.

DSW’s Melissa Broudo on CapitolTV in Rhode Island.

DSW’s Henri Bynx on CapitolTV in Rhode Island.

DSW Newsletter #52 (February/March 2024)

DSW Advocates Testify on Crucial Bills in RI

March 20, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) staff members are busier than ever. Within the span of just a few weeks, staff members testified at three different hearings in front of...
Read More
DSW Advocates Testify on Crucial Bills in RI

DSW Organizes Immunity Advocacy Day in Albany

February 27, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) gathered elected officials, advocates, sex worker rights activists, and survivors of trafficking to urge the New York State Legislature to pass S1966 (Sepulveda) /...
Read More
DSW Organizes Immunity Advocacy Day in Albany

Strippers Fight for Long Overdue Rights in WA

March 25, 2024 Following years of advocacy and organizing, Strippers Are Workers, based in Washington, is celebrating a major victory. SB6105, known as the Stripper’s Bill of Rights, was signed into...
Read More
Strippers Fight for Long Overdue Rights in WA

In Loving Memory of Cecilia Gentili

March 5, 2024 It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Cecilia Gentili, a beloved transgender actress, author, activist, and icon who passed away at the age of...
Read More
In Loving Memory of Cecilia Gentili

DSW Newsletter Archive

In Loving Memory of Cecilia Gentili

March 5, 2024

It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Cecilia Gentili, a beloved transgender actress, author, activist, and icon who passed away at the age of 52 on February 6, 2024. Cecilia, an asylum seeker from Argentina, dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of those often marginalized and overlooked, including undocumented immigrants, sex workers, people living with HIV, and the LGBTQ+ community. In her passing, she leaves behind a legacy of resilience, activism, and unapologetic self-expression.

Cecilia was born in Argentina on January 31, 1972. Due to her lived experiences, she joked that she had a master’s degree in being an immigrant, a sex worker, a trans woman and an addict. Much of her early life was fraught with hardship, adversity, and trauma. As a child, she was sexually abused by a neighbor. When she emigrated from Argentina to the United States, the only work she could find as an undocumented, trans woman was sex work. Due to the criminalization of prostitution in the United States, she was arrested. Even though she was a trans woman, she was frequently placed with male inmates while she was incarcerated and suffered sexual and physical violence. Her early years in the United States were defined by drug addiction, exploitation, and incarceration. Yet, through sheer determination and resilience, she persevered, emerging as a beacon of hope for countless individuals facing similar challenges.

Cecilia’s activism was effective and far-reaching. She worked at The LGBT Center, the NYC Anti-Violence Project, and the Apicha Community Health Center in New York, and then she became the Director of Policy at the GHMC in 2016, an organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention. Cecilia was a legislative powerhouse, playing a critical role in enacting life-saving legislation in New York. During her time at GHMC, she championed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) which was eventually signed into law in 2019. GENDA added gender identity and gender expression as protected classes under New York’s human rights and hate crime laws. Cecilia was also a founding member of Decrim NY, a coalition working to decriminalize, decarcerate, and destigmatize the sex trade in New York. With her help, Decrim NY successfully repealed the “Walking While Trans Ban” in New York, a loitering law that disproportionately targeted trans women and women of color in prostitution arrests. In 2018, she founded her own company, Trans Equity Consulting, that sought to center and uplift trans women of color, immigrants, sex workers, and incarcerated people.

But Cecilia's impact extended far beyond the confines of traditional advocacy. She was a storyteller, a performer, and a source of inspiration for all who had the privilege of knowing her and bearing witness to her art. Through her one-woman, off-Broadway shows, her acclaimed book Faltas: Letters to Everyone in My Hometown Who Isn’t My Rapist, and her breakthrough performance in the groundbreaking FX drama Pose, Cecilia challenged stereotypes, shattered stigma, and paved the way for greater visibility and acceptance for transgender individuals and sex workers alike.

Even in the midst of her remarkable achievements, Cecilia remained humble, grounded, and fiercely devoted to her community. She was a mentor, a friend, and a mother figure to many, offering support, guidance, and unconditional love to all who crossed her path. Her compassion, even more than her indomitable presence, is what the people closest to her will remember her by.

Though Cecilia's life was celebrated by many, her funeral stirred controversy within the Catholic Church, highlighting the ongoing struggle for acceptance and inclusion. Despite being a beloved figure within the LGBTQ+ community, Cecilia’s funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral was met with condemnation from church officials, who labeled the proceedings as “scandalous” and “sacrilegious.” This response reflects a broader disconnect between institutionalized religion and the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals, underscoring the need for greater understanding and acceptance within religious communities.

In the face of such criticism, it is important to remember Cecilia’s unwavering commitment to justice and equality. She lived her life with courage, authenticity, and compassion, challenging societal norms and advocating for the rights of those often marginalized and overlooked. While her funeral may have sparked controversy, Cecilia’s legacy will endure as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come.

As we remember Cecilia Gentili, let us honor her legacy by continuing the fight for justice, liberation, and the acceptance of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or background. Cecilia’s spirit will live on through the lives she touched and the movements she led. May she rest in power, forever remembered for her strength, resilience, and compassion.

Cecilia Gentili. photo by Erica Lansner/Redux

DSW Newsletter #52 (February/March 2024)

DSW Advocates Testify on Crucial Bills in RI

March 20, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) staff members are busier than ever. Within the span of just a few weeks, staff members testified at three different hearings in front of...
Read More
DSW Advocates Testify on Crucial Bills in RI

DSW Organizes Immunity Advocacy Day in Albany

February 27, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) gathered elected officials, advocates, sex worker rights activists, and survivors of trafficking to urge the New York State Legislature to pass S1966 (Sepulveda) /...
Read More
DSW Organizes Immunity Advocacy Day in Albany

Strippers Fight for Long Overdue Rights in WA

March 25, 2024 Following years of advocacy and organizing, Strippers Are Workers, based in Washington, is celebrating a major victory. SB6105, known as the Stripper’s Bill of Rights, was signed into...
Read More
Strippers Fight for Long Overdue Rights in WA

In Loving Memory of Cecilia Gentili

March 5, 2024 It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Cecilia Gentili, a beloved transgender actress, author, activist, and icon who passed away at the age of...
Read More
In Loving Memory of Cecilia Gentili

DSW Newsletter Archive

DSW Organizes Immunity Advocacy Day in Albany

February 27, 2024

Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) gathered elected officials, advocates, sex worker rights activists, and survivors of trafficking to urge the New York State Legislature to pass S1966 (Sepulveda) / A7471 (Kelles), an act to amend the penal law in relation to individuals engaged in prostitution who are victims of or witnesses to a crime. S1966 / A7471 (Kelles) is common-sense legislation that would encourage sex workers and trafficking survivors who are crime victims and witnesses to report their experience to law enforcement, receive medical care, and seek help. People involved in commercial sexual activity, whether by choice or because they are being trafficked, are often targeted by predators who know they are unlikely to report victimization or seek medical attention for fear of their own arrest. When abusers are not reported to law enforcement, they are able to continue their acts of violence and exploitation with impunity. Similar legislation has recently passed in a number of states around the country.

The group of advocates included representatives from a variety of organizations from across New York State, including ECLI-VIBES, Equality NY, the Caribbean Equality Project, the Ali Forney Center, and the Free to Be Youth Project, among others. Advocates met with 25 legislators throughout the course of the day to share their stories and educate them on this critical policy. In the weeks since, the bill has gained four co-sponsors in the Senate and nine co-sponsors in the Assembly!

Advocates gather in between meetings with legislators.
Advocates gather in between meetings with legislators.
Advocates gather in between meetings with legislators.

Advocates gather in between meetings with legislators.

DSW Newsletter #52 (February/March 2024)

DSW Advocates Testify on Crucial Bills in RI

March 20, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) staff members are busier than ever. Within the span of just a few weeks, staff members testified at three different hearings in front of...
Read More
DSW Advocates Testify on Crucial Bills in RI

DSW Organizes Immunity Advocacy Day in Albany

February 27, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) gathered elected officials, advocates, sex worker rights activists, and survivors of trafficking to urge the New York State Legislature to pass S1966 (Sepulveda) /...
Read More
DSW Organizes Immunity Advocacy Day in Albany

Strippers Fight for Long Overdue Rights in WA

March 25, 2024 Following years of advocacy and organizing, Strippers Are Workers, based in Washington, is celebrating a major victory. SB6105, known as the Stripper’s Bill of Rights, was signed into...
Read More
Strippers Fight for Long Overdue Rights in WA

In Loving Memory of Cecilia Gentili

March 5, 2024 It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Cecilia Gentili, a beloved transgender actress, author, activist, and icon who passed away at the age of...
Read More
In Loving Memory of Cecilia Gentili

DSW Newsletter Archive

VT Bill Aims To End Housing Discrimination Against Sex Workers

January 31, 2024

Companion bills S.277 and H.605, introduced this month in Vermont, propose to eliminate offenses related to the location of prostitution while retaining the offenses of aiding or abetting, engaging in, or procuring or soliciting prostitution. Passage of this bill would increase access to housing for individuals formerly or currently engaged in sex work1, allow them to access justice should their right to housing be denied based on their occupation, and reduce stigma and discrimination against sex workers, which gravely affects all aspects of their lives. DSW and other advocates claim the bill is critical to ensuring equity, health, and safety2 for sex workers and should be part of the state’s strategy to keep marginalized and vulnerable individuals housed.

Some individuals choose sex work among other well-paying jobs and some are in circumstances, namely exclusion from the traditional labor force due to discrimination, that lead them to sex work even if it is not their first choice for earning an income. Like most individuals who engage in any form of labor, sex workers name accessing and maintaining housing as one of the primary motivators for engaging in sex work. Simultaneously, criminalization, along with stigma and discrimination often make it impossible for them to access and keep safe and adequate housing. In a 2016 report, Amnesty International writes, “Criminalization and discrimination often lead to violations of the right to adequate housing for many sex workers, even though this right is enshrined under international laws and standards.”

Criminalization punishes everyone involved in sex work, including those who are seeking a way out. Burdened with criminal records, many former sex workers who wish to exit the sex industry find themselves unable to do so and must return to sex work to make ends meet. Private housing providers often implement policies that restrict individuals with arrests or criminal convictions. Under current law, landlords may discriminate against sex workers. These circumstances push many sex workers, current and former, directly into homelessness.

Homeless or housing-unstable sex workers are more vulnerable to violence due to lack of access to private space for working and living. In particular, women sex workers face a high burden of unstable housing and evictions, which are linked to increased odds of intimate partner and workplace violence.3 Stigma and discrimination cause tremendous harm to all people engaged in sex work, whether their form of work is legal or not and whether they are working by choice, circumstance, or coercion. Laws that further stigma, shame, misogyny, and discrimination enable and amplify harms to an already vulnerable population.


1 Sex work is the exchange of sexual services for money or something of value. Sex work includes the entire field of sexual services, both legal and illegal, including pornography, exotic dancing, fetish work, web-based work, and prostitution. Prostitution is the kind of sex work most often criminalized, and it is the direct, in-person exchange of sex for money or other things of value.

2 Goldenberg S.M., Buglioni N., Krüsi A., Frost E., Moreheart S., Braschel M., Shannon K. Housing Instability and Evictions Linked to Elevated Intimate Partner and Workplace Violence Among Women Sex Workers in Vancouver, Canada: Findings of a Prospective, Community-Based Cohort, 2010-2019. Am J Public Health. 2023 Apr;113(4):442-452. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2022.307207. PMID: 36888950; PMCID: PMC10003487.

3 Ibid.

DSW Newsletter #51 (January 2024)

January Is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January 1, 2024 January is nationally recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month. Human trafficking can occur in any labor sector and can happen to men, women, and children of...
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January Is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

VT Bill Aims To End Housing Discrimination Against Sex Workers

January 31, 2024 Companion bills S.277 and H.605, introduced this month in Vermont, propose to eliminate offenses related to the location of prostitution while retaining the offenses of aiding or abetting,...
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VT Bill Aims To End Housing Discrimination Against Sex Workers

DSW Attends Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas for Second Consecutive Year

January 24, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) headed to Vegas for the second year in a row to attend the Adult Video News (AVN) Awards in Las Vegas, the largest adult...
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DSW Attends Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas for Second Consecutive Year

DSW Welcomes MPH Intern

January 30, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) has been fortunate to partner with dedicated and talented interns pursuing a number of fields of study, and we are thrilled to welcome Jessica...
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DSW Welcomes MPH Intern

DSW Newsletter Archive

DSW Welcomes MPH Intern

January 30, 2024

Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) has been fortunate to partner with dedicated and talented interns pursuing a number of fields of study, and we are thrilled to welcome Jessica Moore, who is pursuing a masters in public health (MPH) and plans to be a lawyer.

Moore is an Atlanta native. She graduated from Jasper County High School in 2018. While there, she engaged in independent biotechnology research focused on the genotype and phenotype of Lichens. The computational biology research “Lichen Phenotypic Expression with Genomic Verification” led Jessica to win the Regional Science and Engineering Fair held at Georgia College and State University. Jessica went on to present her research at the State Science and Engineering Fair at the University of Georgia and the International Science and Engineering Fair held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the International Science and Engineering Fair, Jessica received a special award from the United States Air Force recognizing her work in STEM. Jessica was later granted admission to the University of Georgia.

In 2022, Jessica earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion from the University of Georgia. Following graduation, she embarked on a summer internship, as part of her experiential learning requirement, with the East Georgia Cancer Coalition creating resources tailored toward patients in 52 counties in Georgia undergoing cancer treatment and survivorship. By the end of the summer, Jessica was offered a position working with East Georgia Cancer Coalition as a program assistant where she has since been dedicated to serving the nonprofit organization for the past year two years.

Currently, Jessica is pursuing an MPH with a concentration in Health Promotion and a certificate in the Social Determinants of Health from the University of Georgia. Throughout her enrollment in the master's program, Jessica served as the clinic assistant at the Clarke Middle Health Center through the UGA medical partnership, which provides free health services to medically underserved families in Athens-Clarke County. During her 2nd year as an MPH student, Jessica is interning, as part of her applied learning practice requirement, with Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW). Jessica will graduate in May of 2024. Following her graduation, Jessica plans to attend law school with a specialization in public health law in the fall of 2024.

“Upon learning about DSW I was immediately drawn to intern with the organization. I know the power of advocacy because my accomplishments are owed to someone who advocated for me. DSW just felt like the perfect fit for me.”

Read why decriminalization is critical to improving public health and safety here.

Jessica Moore

Courtesy of Jessica Moore.

DSW Newsletter #51 (January 2024)

January Is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January 1, 2024 January is nationally recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month. Human trafficking can occur in any labor sector and can happen to men, women, and children of...
Read More
January Is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

VT Bill Aims To End Housing Discrimination Against Sex Workers

January 31, 2024 Companion bills S.277 and H.605, introduced this month in Vermont, propose to eliminate offenses related to the location of prostitution while retaining the offenses of aiding or abetting,...
Read More
VT Bill Aims To End Housing Discrimination Against Sex Workers

DSW Attends Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas for Second Consecutive Year

January 24, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) headed to Vegas for the second year in a row to attend the Adult Video News (AVN) Awards in Las Vegas, the largest adult...
Read More
DSW Attends Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas for Second Consecutive Year

DSW Welcomes MPH Intern

January 30, 2024 Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) has been fortunate to partner with dedicated and talented interns pursuing a number of fields of study, and we are thrilled to welcome Jessica...
Read More
DSW Welcomes MPH Intern

DSW Newsletter Archive