A controversial new bill would legalize prostitution in New York State by eliminating several laws that punish people who buy, sell and promote sex.
“Trying to stop sex work between consenting adults should not be the business of the criminal justice system. It has not worked for a couple of thousand years,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), a lead sponsor of the bill, at a Manhattan press conference Monday.
Gottfried admitted that it will be a long-term effort to enact the legislation that does not yet include any safety or other regulations. The bill currently has the support of seven legislators– Senators Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn), Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) and Assembly Members Gottfried, Yuh-Line Niou (D-Manhattan), Dan Quart (D-Manhattan), Ron Kim (D-Queens), and Catalina Cruz (D-Queens).
Gottfried and other lawmakers touted the bill as the first of its kind in the country. It would uphold laws involving human trafficking, rape, assault, battery and sexual harassment as well as sex work concerning minors or coercion. It would slash about a dozen other laws including selling sex for money, buying sex, promoting prostitution and loitering for the purposes of prostitution.
Supporters of the bill argue that it would protect sex workers while opponents say that it would lead to more abuse.