Statement by Lori Nairne from Queer Strike at a rally called by sex worker groups to protest Prop 35, October 29
Queer Strike is here today to oppose Prop 35. Many LGBTQ people are sex workers; criminalization is not new to us, but the situation is definitely getting much worse. Trans sex workers are the frequent targets of police harassment, particularly if they are people of color. I want to mention our good friend Shelly Resnick, a young transgender woman who fought against a sting operation arrest from a web ad. She also gave crucial testimony against violence against transgender people in prison in Sacramento. She was later arrested again out of state and ended up in prison, then was found dead in her cell. And when there is this kind of violence in prison or otherwise, there is rarely justice for the partners or families. Prop 35 will result in more young people going to prison and facing violence.
Prop 35 under the pretext of protecting young people from trafficking will bring more and expanded laws resulting in more arrests and criminalization of those who work in the sex industry or anyone with associating with them. There is a new statistic that 46% of homeless youth are LGBTQ people, many sell sex to survive. With few to no economic alternatives, sex work is often the only option. Most have been forced to leave families due to violence, bullying and other abuse and end up on the streets. If Prop 35 passes, just by helping a young LGBTQ person who has any relationship to sex work, you could be charged with the offense of trafficking and face years in prison and have to register as a sex offender. We met young people at Occupy whose lives were impacted by criminal records — and have to report their record on a job or housing application. It is outrageous that billionaire Chris Kelly claims that he is looking out for the needs of young people.
Many LGBTQ immigrants come to the SF Bay Area because we have established and recognized LGBTQ communities, where we can live more openly. Some come to join partners but we have no marriage rights so they cannot become citizens and work legally. Sex work is one type of waged work which can be done under the table and will help pay the high cost of living in this area. Prop 35 targets the immigrant community directly and invites more raids and deportations, under the excuse of anti-trafficking enforcement, immigrant women who work in massage parlors have been targeted by police and ICE in these raids and have faced violence and abuse of civil rights, and most are deported..
Sex workers and LGBTQ people were a united force at the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969 which ignited the modern day LGBTQ movement. But gays moved forward and got homosexual sex/sodomy laws removed in most states. They only remain on the books in three, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Meanwhile sex workers are still arrested for consenting sex in exchange for money. Prop 35 will mean more criminalization and more violence. We call on all in the LGBTQ community, sex worker or not, to ban together to help defeat this horrific legislation.