The Eros Association, Australia’s adults-only industry association, and others are very concerned by comments made by the Victorian Liberal-National Opposition supporting the criminalisation of sex workers for not adopting safe sex practices.

The Government is proposing to remove this discriminatory, sex industry-specific offence and replace it with a new public health framework for the sex industry and new laws that criminalise stealthing or removing a contraceptive device without consent in all contexts.

As Eros has stated in its submissions on sex work decriminalisation, existing laws that mandate infectious disease testing and criminalise recklessly causing injury, including infecting someone with a sexually transmitted disease, already apply to sex workers.

“Evidence indicates that sex workers have comparatively higher rates of compliance with safer sex practices and lower rates of sexually transmitted infections than the general population. The Opposition are playing politics and, quite frankly, should as legislators have a firm understanding of the current public health orders,” said Rachel Payne, General Manager of Eros.

“Criminal laws that target sex workers are incompatible with full decriminalisation of sex work, and the Opposition must stop perpetuating stigma against our industry.”

“Working Man’s members are all gay and bisexual male sex workers. Our members respond to safe sex messaging from their peers, far more than from medical or law enforcement officials,” said Brett Smith, committee member of Working Man, a peer support group for Victorian male sex workers.

“Peer education, not criminal laws is the key to safer sex practices in the sex industry.”

“Thanks to effective treatment and prevention, Victoria is on course to achieve the virtual elimination of HIV. The path to ending HIV transmission, does not in any way depend on outdated criminal laws relating to condom use, HIV or mandatory testing,” said Matthew Roberts, Policy Advisor at Sex Work Law Reform Victoria.

“Full access to health services and sex worker peer education are what will assist the reduction in transmission of HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections.”

Eros is pushing for all parties to support the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill when it is due to be debated in Victoria’s Legislative Council this month.