California Must Decriminalize Sex Work in Light of FOSTA/SESTA

A 2018 federal court decision in ESPLERP v GASCON [16-15927], the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said it was the California state legislators responsibility to repeal bad laws like PC 647(b), the anti-prostitution law.

Its imperative that legislators act now to protect over 1,000,000 sex workers who find ourselves in reduced economic circumstances because of the chilled online speech that resulted from the recently passed federal legislation called #FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act).

Many sex workers find ourselves in desperate situations because of the loss of online spaces where we can exercise our constitutionally protected right to advertise, screen clients, and share safety information. Some have returned to or have resorted to more dangerous work conditions, such as street-based work, where we have little or no means to protect ourselves from violence or screen clients.

Bad federal laws like FOSTA are always predicated upon draconian anti-prostitution state laws like California’s 647(b) and “Loitering With Intent to Commit Prostitution" California Penal Code 653.22 PC, otherwise known as the "walking while looking like a prostitute" law. These bad laws not only profile the general public as prostitutes, but also criminalize adult consensual sex workers' right to exist by specifically criminalizing our right to negotiate for our wages and safe work conditions, including screening our clients and vice versa.

There is an immediate need for legislators to repeal these arbitrarily enforced anti-prostitution laws as a matter of public safety.

As we put the state of California on notice to repeal all of these bad laws, we note that all laws pertaining to human trafficking will remain enforceable. But the state needs to stop conflicting trafficking with adult consensual sex work.

We the undersigned demand emergency suspension of the enforcement and prosecution of California state anti prostitution laws known as California Penal 647(b) and 653.22 PC. Tell California to decriminalize sex work now!
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