People who carry a sexually transmitted infection (STI) will no longer be prohibited from working in the sex industry and sole sex workers will not have to register with Access Canberra under new laws passed by the Legislative Assembly.
Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury said the changes to the Prostitution Amendment Bill 2018 also removed derogatory references to sex workers, and ensured they were better protected in the community.
The Bill has been renamed from the Prostitution Act 1992 to the Sex Work Act 1992.
Mr Rattenbury said sex workers represent a low-risk demographic for STI transmission because they were required to use prophylactics and they should be held to the same standard as the rest of the community.
He said many sole operators had refused to register with Access Canberra due to privacy concerns and had been reluctant to access health and outreach services.
The new laws will also make the offence of causing anyone under 18 years to provide commercial sexual services an absolute liability offence, and require brothel and escort agency operators to provide free personal protective and safety equipment, including condoms.
“Sex workers are entitled to the same protection of their health, safety and rights without discrimination as any other profession, and these reforms reflect the Government’s commitment to supporting a progressive and socially responsible sex work industry,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“These changes show the Government has listened to stakeholders following the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety’s 2012 report on the Inquiry into the Prostitution Act.”