BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Chants were heard around the Louisiana State Capitol on Tuesday, May 4, calling for lawmakers to make it legal to trade sex acts for money.
A bill by Rep. Mandie Landry (D-New Orleans) would decriminalize prostitution.
“This is the first time a bill like this has been introduced, not just in our state, but to my understanding, any state legislature in the country,” said Landry.
Supporters who testified said the criminalization of prostitution disproportionately affects black women and trans people of color ... saying they make up a large number of people working as prostitutes.
“The vast majority of the time, it’s the people that look like me who are punished,” said one advocate.
“I’m a second-generation sex worker, former sex worker,” said another. “Sex work allowed me the ability to take care of my six children.”
Because it’s illegal, prostitutes say they are forced to make transactions in secluded places, making them vulnerable to thefts, sexual abuse, and trafficking.
They’re also less likely to report crimes against their attackers because they’re scared of being arrested.
“There’s nothing in the current law that really is led by a desire to protect public safety,” said another advocate.
Those who opposed the bill shared just as much passion.
“Please don’t pass this bill,” said one opponent of the bill.
“We say this is not good enough for you,” said another. “We want a bill that actually communicates how much Louisiana loves its women.”
Before the committee could vote to throw the bill out, Landry voluntarily deferred her own bill. But she hopes more discussions and studies will come out of this.
Since it was deferred, that means we won’t see this bill brought back up for the remainder of this year’s session. Those backing the bill said that regardless of the outcome, the fight for their right to be sex workers won’t stop and they aren’t going anywhere.
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