Legislators Offer Differing Approaches To Legalizing Prostitution

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is concerned about the movement to relax or eradicate state laws that protect the public against prostitution. As reported by the Albany Times Union, there are different bills pending in the state legislature that would partly or completely decriminalize prostitution. While the 2023 regular legislative session has concluded, advocates may attempt to use the remaining months of the year to build momentum toward future passage of a decriminalization measure next year or in 2025.

One such bill is Bill S.1352-Krueger/A.3386-Hunter, the Sex Trade Survivors Justice and Equality Act. This bill would lift all criminal penalties affecting prostitutes, but would retain criminal penalties for pimps, patrons, and brothel owners. Laws that take this approach to prostitution are referred to as the Nordic Model. According to the Times Union, the Nordic Model is “designed to end the demand for paid sex to stop the exploitation of vulnerable people.” While the Nordic Model would not be as damaging as the full decriminalization of prostitution would be, it is still problematic because it fails to provide accountability under the law for persons who choose to engage in prostitution and are not forced into the practice.

Bill S.4396-Salazar, on the other hand, would fully decriminalize prostitution. According to the sponsor memorandum, attempting to stop prostitution by consenting adults “should not be the business of our criminal justice system.” Sen. Salazar argues that laws banning prostitution “criminalize women and LGBTQ people for acts of survival and resistance to the force of economic security.” The Senator believes that “[it] is time to put people before antiquated moral judgments.” To be blunt, this is a terrible idea. If New York fully decriminalizes prostitution, we can expect more prostitution, more trafficking, more STDs, more drug use by prostitutes, more violence against women, and more abortion. This is the exact opposite of the direction in which our state should go.