End Violence Against Sex Workers

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December 17, 2012
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Today is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Lambda Legal has joined other LGBTQ and allied organizations from around the country in voicing our support for efforts worldwide to defend the lives and rights of all people involved in the sex trades.

Statement of 50+ U.S. LGBTQ and Allied Organizations on the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

The undersigned lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two Spirit and allied organizations mark the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers by calling for support for efforts worldwide to defend the lives and rights of all people involved in the sex trades.

We recognize that systemic homophobia, transphobia and racism, disproportionate poverty and homelessness, widespread discrimination, and an absence of pathways to immigration status, frequently limit the economic and survival options of LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ youth and adults of color and transgender people. These conditions not only inform and can contribute to the involvement of LGBTQ people in the sex trades, whether by choice, circumstance, or coercion—they also increase the vulnerability to violence and abuse against LGBTQ people in the sex trades.

We recognize that, of the many LGBTQ people who are victims of hate violence each year, many are—or are perceived to be—involved in the sex trades. Many are targeted for violence in part for this reason.

Just one month ago we observed the Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we commemorate the lives of transgender people who have been targeted for violence. Many of the people we remember today—those lost to violence against sex workers and people in the sex trades—are the same individuals we remembered on November 20.

We recognize that all too often police and other officials abuse both LGBTQ people and people who are or are perceived to be involved in the sex trades. LGBTQ people involved in the sex trades are among those most at risk of violence, yet often face indifference when reporting violence. We recognize that profiling of LGBTQ youth of color and transgender people for prostitution-related offenses remains pervasive in many communities and harms all LGBTQ people, exposing us to violence at the hands of police, prison officials, and immigration authorities.

We recognize that the voices and visions of LGBTQ people who are or have been sex workers or involved in the sex trades have historically been—and continue to be—at the forefront of movements for LGBTQ equality and freedom worldwide, and must play a leadership role in informing our responses to violence against people in the sex trades.

We recognize that policy approaches focused on increasing safety, opportunity, empowerment, and harm reduction, and which focus on meeting basic needs for housing, living wage employment, and health care through voluntary, LGBTQ-affirming and non-judgmental services are essential to ending violence against people involved in the sex trades. We believe that harsh punitive approaches only increase vulnerability to violence among those they seek to protect.

We recognize that violence against sex workers and people in the sex trades is an LGBTQ issue, and we stand committed to ending it. 

Signing Organizations

American Civil Liberties Union

Audre Lorde Project – New York, NY

Best Practices Policy Project

BreakOUT, New Orleans, LA

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Community United Against Violence (CUAV) – San Francisco, CA

DC Trans Coalition – Washington, DC

Equality Maryland

Family Equality Council

FIERCE – New York, NY

Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) – Washington, DC

Gender Justice Nevada

Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS) – Washington, DC

Human Rights Campaign

Immigration Equality

Lambda Legal

Louisiana Trans Advocates

Make the Road New York

Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

National Coalition for LGBT Health

National Council of Jewish Women

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Native Youth Sexual Health Network

New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE)

PFLAG National

Persist Health Project - New York, NY

Rainbow Response Coalition – Washington, DC

Red Umbrella Project

Queers for Economic Justice

Sex Workers Action New York

Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA)

SWOP Chicago

SWOP NYC

SWOP San Francisco Bay Area

Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center – New York, NY

Streetwise and Safe – New York, NY

Sylvia Rivera Law Project – New York, NY

Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition

Trans Advocacy Network

Transgender Education Network of Texas

Transgender Health Empowerment (THE) – Washington, DC

Transgender Law Center

Trans Youth Equality Foundation

The Trevor Project

VenusPlusX

Women with a Vision – New Orleans, LA