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Manukau Antisoliciting Bill

Tue 14 Sep 2010 In: Politics and Religion View at NDHA

Since the Prostitution Law Reform Act was passed in 2003, the Christian Right, conservative local authorities and fellow travellers have been trying to undermine it. Last week, there was another attempt to do so. The Prostitution Law Reform Act comprehensively decriminalised brothel keeping, living off the earnings of sex work, sex work management, brothel work and street sex work (or soliciting). It was based on equivalent New South Wales legislation. Unfortunately, as with New South Wales, there have been repeated attacks on the legislation from conservative city councillors and the Christian Right. In the Australian context, one of the ringleaders was fundamentalist Fred Nile and his Christian Democratic Party, whose extra-parliamentary arm was the Festival of Light (now known as Family Voice Australia) Indeed, Family First and the Kiwi Party do so here, as well. It should be noted that ex-Kiwi Party MP Gordon Copeland's proposed anti-PLRA citizens referendum failed to gain enough signatures in 2004 and proved abortive. Moreover, at the last general election, the Kiwi Party itself only gained 0.54 percent of the total vote. The bully pulpit has no mandate to do this. The Regulation of Prostitution in Specific Places Act is an attempt to duplicate this sorry state of affairs here. This is not the first time that this obnoxious bill has been before Parliament. George Hawkins (Labour, Manurewa) introduced it once beforehand, in 2006. On that occassion, the first reading margin (109-11) sent it off the Local Government and Environment Select Committee. Originally, Manukau City Council claimed that there were problems from street sex workers that included littering, antisocial behaviour, unsafe disposal of syringes and used condoms and other 'nuisances.' During the original reading, Manukau County Police, the Maori Wardens Association and Women's Health Collective all opposed the original incarnation of this bill on the basis that the MCC had also passed bylaws that prevented sex workers from using rented residential property to get them off the streets and locks public toilets to prevent night time use, despite the presence of adjacent pubs and night clubs. Moreover, the proposed legislation also violated the Bill of Rights Act, as it enabled sex workers and clients to be merely arrested on 'suspicion' of sex work and imposed draconian fines. The select committee also noted that the Litter and Summary Offences Act could be used against bona fide public nuisances in this context, and that there was no evidence that the sex workers were the ones responsible for the raucous behaviour. In view of the above, it is not surprising the original incarnation of this bill did not prevail. At its second reading, it was defeated, 73-46. One hopes reason will prevail in the current context as well. In particular, Hone Harawira and Pita Sharples' comments against the original bill are relevant here. They noted that the iniquitous effect of this bill will impact especially severely on Maori, working class mothers and whakawahine. In solidarity with our weakest community members then, LGBT New Zealanders must oppose this bill. Recommended: "Law would put prostitutes at risk" 09.09.2010: Roberta Perkins et al (ed) Sex Work and Sex Workers in Australia: Sydney: University of New South Wales Press: 1994. Prostitution in Australia: Original Debate, Regulation of Prostitution In Public Places Bill, Second Reading: Hansard 2006: Craig Young - 14th September 2010    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Tuesday, 14th September 2010 - 9:19am

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