Queensland moves to decriminalise sex work

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Queensland has taken the first steps towards decriminalising sex work in order to improve health, safety, human rights and legal protections.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman has asked the state's law reform commission (QLRC) to review and investigate the regulation of a new framework for the industry.

"Feedback from the sector has been that current laws criminalise safety strategies used by sex workers," Ms Fentiman said on Saturday.

"A key focus of this review is the safety of workers and putting in place proper regulation so the industry doesn't operate in the shadows.

"Sex workers shouldn't have to choose between working legally and being safe at work."

The QLRC will consult with workers and licensees, their representative bodies and other stakeholders as part of the process.

There are currently two legal forms of regulated sex work in Queensland: services provided in a licensed brothel, not including outcalls from the premises; and those provided by sole operators in-house or as outcalls.

Any other form of sex work is illegal including services provided by escort agencies, unlicensed brothels, massage parlours, street workers and two or more sex workers operating from a single premises.

The state has few licensed brothels and most sex work occurs outside the regulated or licensed sector.

The QLRC review will consider an overarching framework and draft legislation, appropriate safeguards to deter exploitation, compatibility with human rights legislation, public health and safety implications and potential impacts for the sex work industry.

It will also consider regulatory arrangements in other jurisdictions, including the Northern Territory and NSW, which have decriminalised sex work industries.

Ms Fentiman said the review was an important step forward allowing consideration of what reform will benefit the industry and the agencies that provide support and regulation.

"It is our hope that these recommendations will help reduce the barriers sex workers and businesses face," she said.

The commission will provide its report, including any draft legislation required by 27 November 2022.

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