Petition to defer any bill on prostitution until after the next general election

January 1, 2009

ecplh_454x480Further to my recent post about the proposals to criminalise sex work, Caroline at Better Burn That Dress, Sister has posted (link here) about a new online petition to defer any bill on prostitution until after the next general election.

The right of people in this country to decide by mutual agreement whether and under what conditions they consent to sexual intercourse is fundamental. In particular, it has never been illegal to pay for consensual sex since at least as far back as Magna Carta. The government are now proposing to criminalise men who pay for sex for the first time in this country’s history. That would constitute a radical change in the legal position for which the government has no electoral mandate, since the policy at the time of the 2005 general election was to legalise brothels operated by a small number of sex workers. We therefore call upon the government to obtain a mandate from the electorate before introducing any bill on prostitution.

The petition can be found by clicking here and I can only echo Caroline’s request: “If you’re a British citizen, will you please sign this?”

3 Responses to “Petition to defer any bill on prostitution until after the next general election”


  1. I like the strategy of the petition, to emphasise British historical tradition. At the same time, there’s a tendency in the UK at the moment to create a new Us v Them: British v foreigners, and, in the prostitution arena, Free British sex workers v Trafficked foreign victims. Freedom and non-freedom exist in a complicated way amongst migrants, too, whethere they come originally from Europe or the third world. I wrote about The Shadowy World of Sex Across Borders for the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/19/humantrafficking-prostitution
    And there’s a lot more at Border Thinking: http://www.nodo50.org/Laura_Agustin
    Best, Laura

  2. Helen G Says:

    Laura: Thanks for stopping by, and also for the links.

    The question of why the petition requires signatories to be “a British citizen or resident” is an interesting one, and I’m not entirely sure why the distinction is being drawn. A quick google for the petition creator’s name is not entirely helpful so at the time of writing I have no satisfactory answer.

    But, given the content of the petition, it’s hard to believe that it’s being deliberately exclusive – the implication (that the proposal would apply only to British sex workers and their clients) seems to suggest that non-British sex workers and their clients would be exempt from the law, which may in turn lead to even further discrimination based on one’s nationality. That would seem to be a horrifyingly grim outcome, to say the least.

  3. Jessikat Says:

    Maybe I’m missing something in this query, but isn’t the requirement of British nationality or residency merely a standard condition set by the petition hosts, the PM’s Office (a.k.a number10.gov.uk), as opposed to one chosen by the petition creator. One would imagine the emphasise is so that people don’t waste effort encouraging non-UK contacts to sign it when they would either not sign it when that requirement was highlighted, or if they did sign it simply get discounted by Downing Street who, other intents aside, do seem to wish for these e-petitions to be generally ‘valid’.

    As for the call of the petition it does spark in my mind the horrible thought, that say the further criminalisation *was* put off, imagine what even worse sh*t the Tories could draft up and push through on the excuse that “even our liberal soft-on-violence Opposition wanted to ban this exploitation, but were too scared to do so” etc. The possibility makes my flesh crawl. :(

    (Although hopefully a deferral would result in the usual being forgotten about by the Establishment for a while.)


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