It is always regrettable when Christians hold to somewhat conflicting views on matters of great importance. Sadly, this seems to be the case in relation to the Prostitution Bill 2011. It now seems that some Christian MPs who had previously opposed the Bill and may have been essential to its defeat are now prepared to support the Bill which would legalise prostitution, on condition that prostitution will then be made illegal upon the activation of a “sunset clause” in five years time.
One prominent organisation*with an admirable pro-family historyis circulating to churches a petition that supports the sunset clause. The petition “supports amendments to the Prostitution Bill 2011 including: A Sunset Clause that would: outlaw all brothels five years after the Act comes into effect [i.e., five years after brothels are legalised and prostitutes are licensed]”.
While the intention of those supporting the “sunset clause” is not being called into question, it does appear their judgment lacks soundness. Five years is not only beyond the term of this present government, but also beyond the term of the next.With the ebb and flow of politics, it is entirely possible that by the time five years have passed, Christian Porter may no longer be the Attorney General**, indeed the Liberals may no longer hold government.
Furthermore, there is little doubt that Labor would ignore the sunset clause.They would argue that the laws legalising brothels and licensing prostitutes are working well. Nor would they have to fight a costly battle to legalise prostitution.They could simply eliminate the sunset clause. They could argue that prostitution was legalised by the Liberals with the support of some Christians. And as we have learned from bitter experience, once something is legalised, turning it around is almost impossible.
Owners of legalised brothels would argue, with a great deal of leverage and a legal platform to do so, for the continuation of legalisation. They would claim that legislation has worked well, and that making prostitution illegal will only exacerbate problems and drive it underground.
A far better alternative to legalising prostitution only to make it illegal after five years would be to pass a bill that outlaws prostitution, but allows for a period of grace prior to prosecution in order for people involved in the “trade” to get out of it. At the most, the law should be en-forced, not in five years, but in a year or two. If this outcome cannot be achieved, it would be better for the Prostitution Bill 2011 to lapse than for prostitution to be legalised with a sunset clause that likely will never be enacted.
In terms of Christian considerations, voting for a bill to legalise prostitution even temporarily and in limited numbers is still voting to grant the approval of the state for a brothel owner to recruit women to work as prostitutes and to make money from the sale of those women’s bodies to men. No one who believes in the inherent dignity of women should ever support such a Bill.
* Family Voice Australia is not the organisation referred to in this article.
**Since this article was written, Christian Porter has resigned as Attorney General and has stated his intention to enter federal politics. Already we see that he won’t be present in state parliament in five years time to implement his bizarre proposal to legalise prostitution now in preparation to criminalise it in the future, a proposal that only has merit as a means of duping MPs into supporting the unsupportable.
*** For a detailed explanation of the widespread harm prostitution causes, read Andrew Lansdown’s “Prostitution and Social Justice” pamphlet.