Upper house

South Australian advocates for the decriminalization of sex work hope legislation will be passed this year

The leader of the South Australian Greens hopes sex work can be decriminalized in the state by the end of this year, despite the new Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition all opposing two to measure.

Tammy Franks says she will soon introduce a bill to allow legal prostitution in the state in what will be the 14th time the proposal has come to the South Australian Parliament in the past two decades.

Legislation co-sponsored by Ms Franks and former Deputy Prime Minister and incumbent Liberal MP Vickie Chapman failed to pass the lower house in 2019.

Premier Peter Malinauskas and Opposition Leader David Speirs voted against the bill in conscience votes.

Both men are Christians and to the right of most of their colleagues.

Spokespersons for both told the ABC that their votes would depend on the proposed legislation.

The lower house is controlled by Labor with 27 of the 47 seats, while the results for the upper house are expected to be announced by the Electoral Commission this week.

Greens leader Tammy Franks plans to introduce the private member’s bill soon.(ABC News)

Robert Simms of the Greens received enough votes to be re-elected, while a nation’s first MP could join the Legislative Council.

Ms Franks said she was confident the figures could be found to get a bill passed.

“I think there’s this goodwill there,” she said.

“I think the numbers in terms of the decriminalization of sex work are strong, but it’s then what that decriminalization looks like that we need this time to debate.”

Concerns about street sex work in previous bill

MPs who voted against the bill in the last debate expressed particular concern about sex work on the streets.

Hanson Road, in Mr Malinauskas’ Croydon constituency, is one of the hotspots for the illegal practice.

He said he voted on matters of conscience on a case-by-case basis.

“While my faith is of course part of who I am, my approach is to study the details of the bill and then formulate an opinion taking into account my own conscience, my own values ​​and, of course, the opinions of the community,” he said. mentioned.

“These issues are too often simplified into a conservative versus progressive binary framework, when in truth there are often shades of gray.

“The key is to weigh all competing factors and formulate a position based on the merits of the issue.”

Georgia Thain, coordinator of the Action Committee for the Decriminalization of the Sex Industry, said street sex work accounts for about 1-2% of the entire industry.

New push from May 1

She and Ms. Franks hope to frame the issue of workers’ rights under the labor regime.

Bills to decriminalize sex work were passed in Victoria in February and in the Northern Territory in 2019 under ALP governments.

“I hope now we have seen that it is possible to have discussions and move this issue forward that the South Australian Parliament can take the evidence-based, harm reduction approach and focus really about this discussion that we’re trying to have,” she said.

“Sex work exists, it happens, it goes nowhere and how can we ensure that people have the same rights and access as everyone else, rather than being distracted by a very small minority but quite noisy.”

A woman with brown hair holding a microphone
Georgia Thain, coordinator of the action committee for the decriminalization of the sex industry in South Australia.(Provided)

Committee members will take part in the May Day parade through Adelaide’s CBD.

The committee will launch its campaign at the May Day Community Street Party in Port Adelaide next Sunday with a stand at the event.

“I think with May Day approaching, that’s probably going to be the time that we’ll see both in the community, from the labor movement and also MPs doing this and doing this this year,” Ms Franks said.

Bills allowing medical assistance in dying, decriminalizing abortion and removing the defense against gay panic killing were passed during the Liberals’ tenure in government, all with the support of the former deputy premier Minister Vickie Chapman, who announced last week that she would be leaving politics.