Hawaii lawmakers are considering decriminalizing prostitution after House Speaker Joseph Souki introduced a bill on the issue.
The aloha state is pushing to legalize prostitution after a bill was introduced in the state legislature that would repeal penalties for adult prostitution and promotion of prostitution.
ABC News reports that the proposed bill, if passed, would end a state law that says police officers can’t have sex with prostitutes in the course of investigations.
Before 2014, it was legal for police officers to engage in sex with prostitutes as part of investigations, until it was changed by state lawmakers after The Associated Press exposed the loophole in one of its reports.
Transgender activist, Tracy Ryan said she is pushing the bill because transgender women are overrepresented compared with other women in the sex trade because the discrimination they face leads some to feel it’s the only kind of work they can get.
Kathryn Xian, an anti-sex trafficking advocate, is outraged by the proposal and states that by legalizing the buying, selling, and promotion of sex, it makes it harder to prove violence and abuse in the industry, says the report.
“If this bill passes and everything was no crime whatsoever, then abuses against women and children would just shoot through the freaking roof,” Xian said. “It would be exponentially harder to prove violence in the industry. It would be almost impossible to prove any sort of labor abuse.”
Along the same lines, Honolulu prosecuting attorney Keith Kaneshiro expressed concerns that the bill would make it difficult to address global sex trafficking because “it would be more difficult to find the bad actors, more difficult to get witnesses to make cases.”
Michael Golojuch Jr., chairman of the LGBT caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii supports decriminalizing prostitution, giving this statement: “My dream job would be union organizer for consensual sex workers. It would be great for people who want to do that work to unionize them and empower them so that they are taken care of.”
The controversial bill states:
Ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of people in Hawaiʻi, including sex workers, is a priority of the State. However, statutes relating to prostitution often cause harm to people without the justification of a clear public purpose.
To address these problems, this Act repeals from these statutes, criminal sanctions against persons whose conduct causes no harm to others such as consensual adult prostitution and the promotion of adult prostitution. This includes repealing vague statutory language relating to the solicitation of minors from section 712-1200, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (HRS), relating to the offense of prostitution, because these situations are better addressed by laws prohibiting statutory rape.
This Act also amends section 712-1203, HRS, relating to promoting prostitution, section 712-1206, HRS, relating to loitering for the purpose of engaging in or advancing prostitution, section 712-1208, HRS, relating to promoting travel for prostitution, and section 712-1209.5, HRS, relating to habitual solicitation of prostitution, to eliminate penalties for conduct that causes no harm.
Finally, this Act amends section 712-1209.6, HRS, relating to prostitution and motions to vacate conviction, to vacate all convictions that were obtained for conduct that is decriminalized by this Act and to permit the courts to vacate certain prostitution related convictions if the defendant had no criminal convictions in the preceding three years.
H/T: ABC News
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