Washington, D.C. Councilmember David Grosso announced that he would propose a bill decriminalizing sex work in the city. Two activists, who climbed flagpoles holding a sign in support of the bill, got arrested on Wednesday.
The Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 is aiming to remove a number of criminal punishments relating to sex work “in order to promote public health and safety,” while still keeping forced sex labor illegal, as well as human and child trafficking. The bill does not stipulate creating red light districts in D.C.
A similar bill was introduced in 2017 by Grosso and Councilmember Robert White, which did not receive a Judiciary Committee hearing. However, this time the pair has been joined by two more councilmembers, Anita Bonds and Brianne Nadeau.
If passed, the new regulation would make D.C. the first city in the country to decriminalize prostitution among consenting adults.
“It is long past time for D.C. to reconsider the framework in which we handle commercial sex, and move from one of criminalization to a new approach that focuses on human rights, health and safety,” Grosso said at a press conference.
The bill is quite simple really—it removes criminal penalties for consenting adults who trade sex for money or other things of value. pic.twitter.com/woYn0sNIil
— David Grosso (@cmdgrosso) June 4, 2019
Speaking about the bill, Councilmember White stated that prostitution was not a preferred option for most people involved in the sector.
“It’s because there’s discrimination at every turn, in the job market, in the housing market. What we see are people struggling to survive and the government turning around and saying, ‘You know what we’re going to do, we’re going to criminalize you. We’re going to put you in prison even if you are a victim.’ And that is not solving anybody’s problems,” he elaborated.