Statement on International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers

More than 50 U.S. LGBTQ and allied organizations from around the country, including MTPC, released the following statement marking the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers and voicing their support for efforts worldwide to defend the lives and rights of all people involved in the sex trades.


December 17, 2012

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