Joint Statement of the NYCLA LGBT and Criminal Justice Committees in Support of “Stop the Violence in the Sex Trades Act”


Joint Statement of the NYCLA LGBT and Criminal Justice Committees in Support of “Stop the Violence in the Sex Trades Act”

Statements & Letters
Written by: NYCLA LGBT & Criminal Justice Committees
Published On: May 10, 2023

The NYCLA LGBT and Criminal Justice Committees believe that victims and survivors of human trafficking deserve full protection as victims of sexual violence, the right to seek justice against their perpetrators, and resources to support their recovery.  Our Committees also believe that people who freely and consensually engage in sex work deserve full protection as workers—not criminalization, stigmatization, or harassment.  More, sex workers deserve the respect and freedom to make choices relating to bodily autonomy.  Workers also deserve to be free from force, fraud, or coercion, including physical, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse.  Finally, the criminalization of consensual sex work disproportionately impacts the LGBTQ community, as well as poor communities, communities of color, and immigrants.   

For these reasons, the NYCLA LGBT and Criminal Justice Committees support the pending New York bill, “Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act” (S4396/Assembly Number Pending) (“SVSTA”), which would repeal statutes criminalizing consensual sex work between adults and seal convictions under the repealed statutes.  Importantly, the SVSTA would not repeal statutes criminalizing human trafficking, the exploitation of minors, or other coercion in the sex industry.  Unlike other pending legislation (which purports to decriminalize workers but criminalizes customers who frequent sex workers), the SVSTA does not rely on criminalizing or shaming consensual adult behavior.  Nor does it undermine the experiences of human-trafficking victims by treating their experiences as equivalent to those of bona fide sex workers.  Instead, the SVSTA promotes evidenced-based approaches to sex work.  Indeed, organizations such as Amnesty International, the World Health OrganizationUN AIDS, and more than 250 scientists recognize that comprehensive decriminalization – as proposed in the SVSTA – is the best way to reduce coercion in the sex trade, while also reducing STI transmission, reducing police violence, and enabling sex workers to employ harm reduction and safety tools. 

NYCLA’s members include lawyers representing the people at the heart of these issues.  Our committees urge New York to support this important legislation.

The New York County Lawyers Association was founded in 1908 as one of the first major bar associations in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Since its inception, it has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence, including through the work of its many committees that provide in-depth analysis and insight into legal practice areas. The views expressed are those of the LGBT Committee and Criminal Justice Committee only and approved for dissemination by the President; these views have not been approved by the New York County Lawyers Association Board of Directors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Board.