The NLGBTQ Task Force and Transgender Law Center issued statements today blasting yesterday’s government raid on Rentboy.com, calling it an affront to sex workers, including male escorts and masseurs.
Seven employees, including the CEO, were arrested and $1.4 million in assets seized during the raid. Authorities charge the site, which bills itself as the world’s largest male escort site, promotes prostitution and racketeering charges.
“There are so many other important investigations that federal resources should be focused on right now instead of sex workers. Take the appalling murders of trans women of color — now at epidemic proportions across our nation. Sex work is a fact of life — it has been, it is and it will be as long as human beings are around,” said Russell Roybal, deputy executive director of the task force said in a statement.
“Criminalization puts the livelihoods, health and lives of sex workers in jeopardy. It’s time for our federal justice system to get its priorities straight and it’s time once and for all to decriminalize sex work.”
The Transgender Law Center, which advocates for global transgender rights and recognition, called the raid a human rights violation.
The statements follow a Aug. 20 statement issued by numerous LGBT groups, including the center and task force, calling for the decriminalization of sex work.
Advocates for sex worker’s rights argue laws criminalizing sexual exchange impede sex workers’ ability to negotiate condom use and other boundaries, and force many to work in hidden or remote places where they are more vulnerable to violence.
“Actions like the government’s raid contribute to the unjust and unacceptable systems and society we have today, from the disproportionate incarceration of Black transgender and gender non-conforming people to the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color,” according to the center’s statement.
On Aug. 11, human rights group Amnesty International issued a proclamation urging governments to “to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of sex workers.”