California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill into law that will end arrests made for loitering for prostitution in the state. While the bill doesn't legalize prostitution, supporters believe that it will lower the frequency of police harassment of sex workers.
“To be clear, this bill does not legalize prostitution,” Newsom said in a signing message. “It simply revokes provisions of the law that have led to disproportionate harassment of women,” while adding that it also disproportionately affects the transgender community as well as Black and Latino women in particular.
Additionally, anyone previously convicted or currently serving sentences will be able to ask a court to dismiss and seal the record of the conviction.
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“For far too long, California law has been used to profile, harass and arrest transgender and gender-nonconforming people simply for existing in public spaces,” Tony Hoang, executive director of the LGTBQ rights group Equality California, said in praising the repeal, according to the AP.
The legislation mirrors a similar effort made in New York, last year, to fight against discrimination and violence toward sex workers.
The ACLU has argued that workers who fear arrest for loitering “are more vulnerable to exploitation and violence, and face greater barriers to accessing safe housing and legal employment."