La. lawmaker argues decriminalizing prostitution would make sex work safer

Updated: Mar. 10, 2021 at 4:54 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, wants to decriminalize prostitution. She has filed a bill that would remove sex work from the state’s criminal code, arguing it would make the practice safer.

“Right now, people who are victims of trafficking or witness trafficking are afraid themselves to go to law enforcement because they might be arrested for it,” Landry said. “This would be a clear line between who is being trafficked and who is engaging in consensual sexual behavior.”

Landry contends decriminalizing prostitution would also promote safer sex, since protection is currently used as evidence for an illegal encounter.

“If that’s evidence of the crime, people who are engaging in the activity are less likely to use them,” she said. “That creates more of a public health risk, especially for those who are most at-risk.”

She said some of her bill’s supporters don’t understand why sex work is mostly legal if it’s filmed. Most lawbooks consider pornographers performers, not sex workers.

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The Democrat also contends that prostitutes are simply trying to earn a living, and says the state should not concern itself with sex work as long as everyone involved is of-age and okay with what’s going on.

“If something happens between two people over 18-years-old, why is the government involved?” she asked.

If her proposal survives the state’s conservative legislature and becomes law, Landry said she’ll file a “clean slate” bill in 2022 that would wipe prostitutes’ criminal records.

“It’s important to realize what sex work is: it’s not necessarily Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman,’” she said.

Session begins April 12.

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