Lambda is throwing its support towards legalizing sex work.
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals is hearing oral arguments for the Erotic Service Provider Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) v. Gascón case. This case ultimately is centered on California’s laws that criminalize sex work.
Back in March of 2015, California sex workers, and their employed representatives ESPLERP, legally challenged the state penal code that makes prostitution illegal and are saying that said sections are unconstitutional and undermine public health goals.
The lawsuit was initially dismissed and thus is now being raised to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and in this newest trial Lambda is standing in the wings of support for legalizing sex work.
Lambda is a legal organization that’s focused on getting equal rights for everyone. Or, as its website states, they are “committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.”
“Criminalizing sex work does not reduce the transmission of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections: in fact, just the opposite is true,” said Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal.
“The evidence is clear that laws making it illegal for consenting adults to engage in private sexual activity in exchange for money hurt public health because they lead to fear of law enforcement and criminal prosecution, deter use of condoms—they are often used as evidence of intent to commit this crime—and create hurdles to health care for sex workers and their clients.
The lower court ruling was ill-informed and misguided, and the Ninth Circuit should direct the lower court to reinstate the case and to consider the effects of these laws on public health,” adds Schoettes.
In addition, Lambda has filed a brief explaining their backing of the sex workers and how the current laws get in the way of reducing HIV and STI exposure.
Part of the brief goes:
“Lambda Legal’s landmark Supreme Court victory in Lawrence v. Texas, the case that struck down laws that criminalized sex between same-sex partners, underscored that our right to liberty protects our decisions about adult, consensual sexual intimacy,” said Kara Ingelhart, Lambda Legal Law Fellow.
“It is merely logical that Lawrence extend to the adult, consensual sexual intimacy that occurs between sex workers and their clients; the fact that money is exchanged shouldn’t matter.”
We will keep you updated as the trial progresses.