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To President Biden Re: Decriminalization

May 30, 2023

May 23, 2023, via the White House website

Dear President Biden,

Thank you again for affirming in your June 1, 2021 proclamation on LGBTQ Pride Month that LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. As Pride Month 2023 approaches, I am writing to remind you that sex worker rights are human rights, and so are the rights of customers of sex workers. The LGBTQ+ and sex worker movements have much in common in their historic struggles for decriminalization and recognition of their human rights. Like Human Rights Watch (HRW) has indicated, criminalizing adult, voluntary and consensual sex – including consensual exchange of sexual services – is not compatible with the human right to personal autonomy and privacy. Government should not be telling consenting adults who they may have sexual relations with and on what terms. Full decriminalization of sex work is essential to the wellness and health of trans and queer communities.

The criminalization of consensual sex work is one of the primary areas of racial profiling, violence by police, and mass incarceration of black, brown, and trans people. This violence is compounded when they are denied access to housing, health care, transportation and other basic human needs. I recommend again please that the United States actively pursue the full decriminalization of prostitution and other sex work (erotic labor) by adults. I recommend the nationwide stopping of prostitution-related arrests because these unjust police practices violate human rights and cause unnecessary suffering. Stings done in the name of fighting human trafficking typically result in unjust prostitution-related arrests but few or zero human trafficking convictions. Consensual adult sex work should not be conflated with human trafficking which involves force, coercion or minors.

Full decriminalization of sex work would help sex workers who are victimized by serious crimes to report those crimes without fearing arrest. Thus it would help stop human trafficking.

Best wishes,

Adam Stuart

A black and white photo of people at a protest.

A mostly black and white photo of a large group of people at a protest. They are holding a banner that reads, “Decriminalise Sex Work Safety First.” The banner is in color. It is magenta, and the letters are bright pink and yellow. (Photo by June Mac)

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