Effort Seeks To Decriminalize Sex Work In Oregon

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A philanthropist filed papers with the Oregon Secretary of State on Tuesday to decriminalize sex work in the state in an attempt to put the issue before voters in the 2022 election.

“Sex worker rights are human rights, and the denial of those rights enables human trafficking,” said chief petitioner Aaron Boonshoft, who filed the prospective petition for the Sex Worker Rights Act.

Advocates said Oregon’s laws that criminalize sex work make it difficult for workers to report rape, harassment and human trafficking to police, fearing they themselves could be arrested.

Organizers of the effort said the Sex Worker Rights Act would end criminal penalties for participating in consensual adult sex work and add health and safety protections while maintaining laws against human trafficking.

“Our current system is broken and harms sex workers,” said Anne Marie Backstrom, political director for the campaign. "Sex workers deserve to do their job without fear of arrest or violence, and, like all workers, they deserve access to healthcare, labor protections, and public services.”