On 12 September 2006, the Attorney General, Jim McGinty announced his intention to convene a Working Group to investigate and propose “reforms” to prostitution laws in Western Australia.
The Report of the Prostitution Law Reform Working Group was released on 22 February 2007. Life Ministries presented one of 18 unsought submissions to the working group from individual members of the public and various organisations.
The apparent bias of the Prostitution Law Reform Working Group can be gauged when considering where submissions were sought, and where they were not. It would be expected that submissions would be sought from the Department of Health, the Department of Local Government and Regional Development, the Law Society of WA, and the Police, but many would question why submissions would also be sought from 30 separate “sexual services businesses” (ie, brothels and escort agencies) throughout Western Australia.
One would also question why submissions would be sought from the Anglican Social Responsibility Commission and the UnitingChurch, but not from the Baptists or Churches of Christ or Assemblies of God or Salvation Army, or even from the WA Association of the Heads of Churches.
Furthermore, one could wonder why organisations that have had a long public record of opposing the legalisation of prostitution like The Australian Family Association, Festival of Light, The National Civic Council, Life Ministries, or even Linda’s House of Hope (the only rescue and rehabilitation organisation for prostitutes in WA) would not be invited to contribute. Were submissions sought only from sources that were sympathetic to the Working Group’s objectives?
And consider the composition of the Working Group. John Hyde, MLA, makes no secret of being a homosexual. Giz Watson, MLC, likewise, makes no secret of being a homosexual (lesbian). Both of them may be competent politicians, but their moral views based upon their lifestyle choices are far removed from that of ordinary Christians (and of ordinary non-Christians, for that matter!).The remaining four members of the Working Group include Sue Ellery MLC (Chair); Lisa Bastian, Department of Health; Kim Porter, Organised Crime Division, WA Police; and Caroline Wright, Office of the Attorney General. When considering both the composition of the group and the organisations approached for submissions, it is not surprising that the recommendations are completely unsatisfactory to Christian and family people in WA.
The report recommends that “A minimalist model, based on the New Zealand model be adopted, whereby operators and managers of sexual services businesses be required to be certified, rather than a particular premises licensed.” Licensed premises would be required to display certificates in a place visible to persons entering the premises.
Individual sex workers would not be required to be registered or hold a certificate. Persons who work at small owner-operated premises would be excluded from certification requirements. This would mean that up to two people may work at a particular premise without a certificate, providing they retain control of their individual earnings. These workers can operate, with local government approval, from home!
The report states that “Local government be entitled to regulate but not prohibit such businesses” (emphasis added).
Transitional arrangements will be made for “well managed sexual services businesses” (brothels and escort agencies) which were existing in September 2006 to obtain approval from the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor (an appropriate department it would seem!).
Health, Safety and Working Conditions
One of the stated aims of the report is “reducing stigmatisation of sex workers, recognising the right of sex workers to work in a safe environment and empowering them to assert their rights.” However, prostitutes, and the men that use them, for that matter, should be stigmatised because their behaviour is immoral and causes great harm to families and society.
The report proposes that Sections 190 and 191 of the Criminal Code which impose restrictions on persons’ involvement in prostitution and procuring persons to be prostitutes, be repealed. It also recommends that the Parliament review the changes after two years of operation.
The laws relating to street-based sex workers were not considered as the government is not considering any changes to the existing provisions at this time.
Approach of the Working Group
The report offers the following justification for a minimalist model: “A pragmatic approach was adopted by the Working Group… While recognising the complex social, political, moral and public health implications of commercial sex work, the Working Group makes no value judgment about the sex industry (emphasis added). The Working Group then professes concern for people working in the sex industry, but not a word of concern for the harm of prostitution to marriage, families and the community.
The Working Group’s concern for the status of prostitutes, brothels and madams is such that it recommends the use of neutral terminology: “Accordingly … in the Report, the terms ‘sex worker’, ‘provision of commercial sexual services’, ‘premises’, ‘sexual services businesses’ and ‘operators’ have been used rather than terms such as ‘prostitute’, ‘prostitution’, ‘brothels’ and ‘madams.”
1. Sign Life Ministries’ petition against the legalisation of prostitution in Western Australia. Copies can be obtained from Life Ministries by e-mailing us here… If the recommendations of the Working Group are implemented, prostitution in Western Australia will flourish, just as it has in Victoria and New South Wales. The only way to stop the government is for a massive outpouring of opposition.Print as many blank copies of the petition as needed, circulate them, and return them to Life Ministries as soon as possible.
2. Personally express your opposition to the decriminalisation of prostitution to the Attorney General, Hon Jim McGinty MLA, by writing to him at 30thFloor, Allendale Square, 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth, WA 6000 MLA, or by phoning his office on (08) 9220 5000 .Also contact your local member of parliament (pages 33 & 34 in the White Pages Business & Government) and inform him/her about your opposition to the decriminalisation of prostitution.
3. Please take the time to read Andrew Lansdown’s informative pamphlet, “Prostitution and social justice”, which is available on this site or can be obtained through Life Ministries.This pamphlet details the moral and social harm that prostitution causes, harm that has been glossed over by the Working Group. This pamphlet is suitable for both Christian and non-Christian readers. Obtain additional copies of the pamphlet to give to others from Life Ministries.