Decrim NY has three goals: to decriminalize sex trade-related offenses in New York and pass legislation that protects people in the sex trade; to end the incarceration of sex workers and vacate criminal records related to prostitution; and to “destigmatize the sex trades,” according to a press release. The coalition also “supports evidence-based, harm reduction-rooted programs that empower people’s safety.”
State Sens. Julia Salazar, D-Brooklyn and Jessica Ramos, D-Queens, along with Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, announced their intention to introduce a comprehensive sex work decriminalization legislation on Monday. The bill has already received support from State Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, and assembly members Dan Quart, D-Manhattan and Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan.
“When we criminalize people for the work that they do, it is not empowering and it doesn’t solve problems,” Salazar said at Monday’s event. “It doesn’t solve some of the challenges that sex workers face and that others who have been involved in the trade of sex have also faced . . . We need to work toward full decriminalization.” She noted that her constituents in Brooklyn were disproportionately charged with “loitering for the purposes of prostitution,” and that women, trans people, people of color and undocumented people are most impacted by New York’s anti-prostitution policing.
The launch of Decrim NY and the intention to introduce legislation that will fully decriminalize sex work comes roughly six months after Salazar, a 27-year-old democratic socialist whose political campaign attracted national media attention, defeated four-term incumbent Martin Dilan in a primary to represent New York’s 18th senatorial district during the 2018 midterm election cycle. Salazar became the first-ever politician to include the decriminalization of sex work in her campaign platform and then win election to major office — and sex workers and their advocates are still riding the wave of enthusiasm.
“Julia’s win feels revolutionary because not only did she the support the decriminalization of sex work, but she vocally advocated for it,” Nina Luo, a steering committee member of Decrim NY, told Salon. Luo helped Salazar craft her sex work platform.