An Oregon House committee heard from sex workers and advocates Thursday in support of a bill that would repeal the crimes of prostitution, commercial sexual solicitation and promoting prostitution.
The measure won’t pass this session, since the deadline for bills to advance out of the House Judiciary Committee has already passed. But supporters said they were glad for the chance to have the conversation.
“When I started working sex due to a bad economy, I learned firsthand how the current laws hurt people by punishing consensual activities between consenting adults,” said Elle Stanger, a Portland writer and sex educator who says she’s done “legal and illegal adult entertainment and touch work” since 2005.
“The system sometimes horribly labels consenting adults as criminals or sex offenders,” she said. “Please repeal prostitution-related offenses. It would be an historic move to uphold consent and fight sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.”
Supporters argued that the criminalization of sex work has not come close to eliminating it.
“No public policy or law enforcement activity to date has eliminated the supply or demand for adult consensual sex for monetary exchange,” said Angela Jones, associate professor of sociology at Farmingdale State College in New York. “Sex work remains one of the few options to make money for a large number of individuals.”
The invitation-only panel did not include opponents of the bill.
Its sponsor, Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, thanked House Judiciary chair Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Happy Valley, for giving the bill a hearing, even though it’s dead.
“It is a sensitive and even provocative topic for some, but I think it’s a conversation that we need to be having,” he said.
Chris Lehman email@example.com