Sex Work Would Be Broadly Legal in New York Under New Bill Introduced Monday

The bill removes penalties for buying and selling sex in many cases

What to Know

  • New York would be the first state to broadly legalize sex work under a new proposal introduced Monday
  • The bill's sponsors say legalizing sex work would cut down on sex trafficking
  • Under the new law, in many cases both buying and selling sex would be permitted

Sex work would be broadly legalized in New York state under a first-of-its-kind bill introduced by state legislators on Monday.

A group of lawmakers first called for legislation in February, but on Monday they finally came forward with a 13-page bill that would bring dramatic changes to the sex trade in the state. 

The bill, written with advocacy group DecrimNY, would make it legal to both buy and sell sex under certain circumstances and modifies laws around facilities that are used as places of prostitution.

"For us, this is a bodily autonomy issue — our bodies, our choice — but more than that, it’s an economic issue. And it’s personal," Jessica Raven, one of Decrim NY's organizers, wrote in a Daily News op-ed Monday. 

Two of the bill's sponsors, state senators Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar, have said that 9 out of 10 people arrested in sex-work-related massage parlor raids are immigrants, with most being undocumented Asians.

LGBTQ youth, who often run away from home seeking acceptance, trade sex at 7 to 8 times the rate of other youth in New York City, Ramos and Salazar say. 

A companion bill was also introduced in the Assembly on Monday, with five sponsors. 

Nevada is right now the only U.S. state where prostitution is legal in some counties.

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