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European Sex Worker Unions Back Maltese Government Plans For Prostitution Decriminalisation 

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A coalition of sex worker and LGBT+ rights unions have come out in support of the goverment’s plans to decriminalize prostitution. 

In a statement, the groups said they supported efforts towards a reform of Malta’s laws that would see the rights of sex workers protected.  

“Our organisations, after careful consideration, consultation and research, wholeheartedly support the decriminalisation of sex work,” they said. 

The statement was backed by ILGA Europe, Transgender Europe, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth & Student Organisation, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, La Strada International, European NGO platform against human trafficking, European AIDS Treatment Group and the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe. 

The Maltese government has pledged to reform Malta’s outdated laws and to decriminalise sex work in Malta, however, the plans have been opposed by a number of local women’s rights groups. Back in August, a coalition of NGOs claimed that the government committee piloting the reform lacked experts who work directly with sex workers, warning that the proposed decriminalisation model would make Malta a glorified sex tourism hub. 

With this latest statement, it would appear that the government has found some backing. 

“Globally, sex workers and their organisations are demanding decriminalisation, the right to self-deterination and self-organisation. Our organisations support the principles that laws and policies which impact marginalised communities should be developed with the meaningful involvement of those communities, ensuring their views are heard and their demands included,” read the statement

It went on to note that Malta was a world leader in the protection of LGBT+ people, “a position it has earned by listening to and working in close partnership with LGBT+ organisations and community members”.

“Sex workers are clear in their demands and these should be the guiding principles behdin the current law reform,” they said, adding that demands for decriminalisation were shared by “a great number of leading human rights, women’s rights and public health organisations”. 

They stressed that “without exception, policies that criminalise sex workers, migrants and their work or organisations supporting them, lead to more, not less, violence and exploitation”.

They conclude by noting that in countries that criminalise clients, sex workers report increased precarity and vulnerability to violence and infectious diseases, as well as reduced trust in authorities.

“Meanwhile, in countries and states where sex work is decriminalised, sex workers report greater access to legal protection. Their ability to exercise other key rights, including to justice and health care has improved. Decriminalisation of sex workers and their occupation contributes significantly to their protection, dignity and equality,” they concluded.

Do you agree with decriminalising sex work?

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