Sex workers rally over service crackdown

SEX workers who advertise a "Fifty Shades of Grey" sex service fear a spike in undercover police stings on the state's sex industry.

Under the law, it is illegal for sex workers to use acronyms like BDSM, GFE or PSE to describe sex acts, industry leaders warn.

"Fifty Shades of Grey was a global phenomenon, it was everywhere, in book stores, at the movies,'' DecrimQLD spokeswoman Janelle Fawkes, a sex worker, said.

"It was all about BDSM (Bondage Discipline Submission Masochism).

"Yet to use that term, or show an image of a piece of bondage equipment in an ad, means we are operating outside the law.

"If you advertise a GFE (Girl Friend Experience) or PSE (Porn Star Experience), that can also get a sex worker arrested,'' Ms Fawkes said.

More than 30 sex workers have been charged in a spate of raids by police in the past two months, campaigners say.

Brisbane sex workers will hold a candlelight vigil in Brisbane tonight. Picture: istock
Brisbane sex workers will hold a candlelight vigil in Brisbane tonight. Picture: istock

Official statistics show offences are up by 450 per cent, a briefing report found.

"There has been a real escalation in police activity in the past few months,'' Ms Fawkes said.

Sex workers and supporters tonight plan to rally for sex worker safety and decriminalisation of laws in a candlelight vigil at Centenary Place Park in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, starting at 5.30pm.

Police exploit the strict approved form of advertising to trigger entrapment operations and pose as clients in undercover stings, according to the Queensland University of Technology crime and justice briefing paper.

In 2016-2017, the Queensland Police statistical review showed overall charges for sex work-related offences were up 57%, "knowingly participate in the provision of prostitution" offences were up by 126%, and most offenders were women over 30 years of age.

"The basic act of texting each other for safety is a crime,'' Dr Elena Jeffreys, co-ordinator at Respect Inc, Queenslands' sex worker organisation said.

"Police pose as clients and have immunity to request illegal services when gathering evidence against sex workers

"We have to ask: 'Is this a good use of police resources?'."

Solo independent sex work is legal but all basic sex worker safety activities are illegal in Queensland, such as texting to check in before and after bookings, driving for each other, and working in co-ops or pairs, Ms Jeffreys said.

Queensland has 20 licensed brothels, allowing eight sex workers on the premises at one time, and has outlawed massage parlours.

The Queensland Government asked the law reform commission to review the state's sex work laws on the back of a decriminalisation push in October.



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