A Measure in California that Would Decriminalize Loitering with the Intent to Sell Prostitution is Moving Forward
According to sources, California senators advanced a bill on Friday that would legalize loitering with the purpose to work as a prostitute, with supporters alleging that the present legislation unfairly targets minorities.
In January, the controversial bill will be forwarded to the governor’s desk. While supporters argue that the loitering legislation unfairly targets minorities and transgender persons because of the way they dress, opponents argue that the plan would deprive law enforcement of a weapon to assist sex trafficking victims.
After extensive debate, the bill passed 41-26 in the Assembly, dividing moderate and liberal Democrats, with Republicans side with moderate Democrats against it. It was scheduled to be heard in the state Senate on Friday before lawmakers adjourned for the year.
Making arrests solely because people “‘ look like’ sex workers is discriminatory and wrong, and it puts sex workers and trans people of color in danger,” according to Wiener. Anti-LGBTQ and anti-racist loitering laws must be repealed. Individuals of color, sex workers, and LGBTQ people all deserve to feel safe on our streets.
According to the Bee, the present rule permits officers to examine what a person is wearing, how they move, and who they’re talking to determine if they’re a prostitute. The bill also allows those who have been convicted in the past to have their convictions overturned and their records sealed.
During the discussion, Democratic Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan stated that the present law affects victims of human trafficking by “criminalizing the victims and leaving them with criminal records that impose additional impediments to work, housing, and relief.” Among the Democrats who disagreed was Assemblyman Jim Cooper.
As per the Bee, Stephany Powell of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation cautioned that the bill might embolden sex traffickers.
She said that “It severely cripples law enforcement’s ability to arrest and prosecute human traffickers and sex buyers. If it’s repealed, sex buyers would have immunity.” She argued that lawmakers should focus on anti-discrimination laws that raise minorities out of being forced into sex work.
Data showed that between 2017 and 2019, Black individuals accounted for 56 percent of arrestees and women accounted for 67 percent, a ratio that might be greater if trans women were counted as men, according to supporters. The bill is identical to one that was signed into law in New York last February.