“Violence against sex workers must stop”


(Geneva, 17 December 2018) On this International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers, ILGA joins the sex workers’ rights movement to highlight the urgent need to address the rampant violence and stigma against sex workers and to acknowledge the many human rights violations that sex workers face.

LGBTI sex workers are an integral part of our communities and movements and have shaped key moments in queer history. All too often sex workers have been the first to face attacks, abuse, isolation and discrimination, from clients, the police, family members and other sex workers. LGBTI sex workers, in particular, trans women, are often on the front lines of change, compelled to take action in the face of societal norms that refuse to acknowledge their right to simply exist and be free of violence and discrimination, even within the LGBTI and sex worker movements.

Transphobia, biphobia and homophobia, and exclusion from family, formal education and labour markets, together with criminalising laws and barriers to accessing healthcare and justice exacerbate the situation further, exposing LGBTI sex workers to higher risks of violence.

“Violence, criminalisation and human rights violations against LGBTI sex workers are very serious concerns and should be addressed as a priority by the global LGBTI movement”, stated ILGA Co-Secretaries General Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy. “The large majority of trans people murdered globally are sex workers, in particular trans women of colour and migrant trans women. Unless all members of our communities act together to continue our fight towards social justice for all, we will continue to reinforce oppressive structures that leave people behind.”

“As we continue advocating for equal rights for all peoples, it is a priority to understand the needs and demands, and raise the voices of LGBTI sex workers from diverse groups, backgrounds and regions in our spaces,” ILGA Executive Director André du Plessis points out. “This is why the upcoming ILGA World Conference in Aotearoa / New Zealand from 18 to 22 March 2019 will host for the first time a pre-conference dedicated to the rights of LGBTI sex workers”.

opening photo (modified) 
by Andy Grizzell on Unsplash

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