The Royal College of Nursing, the United Kingdom’s largest union of nurses, have voted to lobby the UK Governments to decriminalise Sex Work. While their stance of supporting decriminalisation was already in line with organisations such as Amnesty International and the World Health Organisation, they have decided to become more active in the debate.
A large majority of 3000 members voted in favour of lobbying the ministers of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to change the current legislation. As things stand, the purchase of sex is illegal in Northern Ireland and while buying sexual services from a sex worker is legal in Scotland, Wales and England, many related activities are considered criminal acts.
Stressing that the health, safety and well-being of sex workers would only be improved, Lou Cahill, a sexual health specialist who proposed the motion, described it as a “fundamental human rights issue” and stated “there is no reliable evidence to suggest that the decriminalisation of sex work would encourage human trafficking.” She reminded the delegates that sexual exploitation and sex trafficking would remain illegal even if sex work itself was decriminalised.
The delegates were presented with research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and heard working experience from New Zealand [where sex work has been decriminalised since 2003] and the proposed motion was passed in the union’s packed Liverpool conference centre.