California lawmakers on Friday superior a invoice that may decriminalize loitering with the intent to work as a prostitute, with supporters claiming the present legislation unfairly targets minorities, in response to reviews.
The controversial invoice shall be despatched to the governor’s desk in January. (California voters head to the polls Tuesday to resolve whether or not to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.)
Whereas proponents of the invoice say minorities and transgender individuals are typically singled out in disproportionate numbers by the loitering legislation primarily based on the way in which they’re dressed, opponents declare the proposal would take away from legislation enforcement a device for serving to sex trafficking victims.
The invoice handed 41-26 within the Meeting after intense debate, splitting average and liberal Democrats, with Republicans siding with average Democrats towards the invoice. It was to return to the state Senate on Friday for consideration earlier than lawmakers adjourn for the yr, FOX 40 of Sacramento reported.
“Holding the invoice on the Senate desk is just a brief delay,” Catie Stewart, a spokeswoman for state Sen. Scott Wiener, who authored the invoice, mentioned, in response to the Sacramento Bee. “It supplies the senator and our coalition extra time to make the case about why this civil rights invoice is sweet coverage that ought to be signed into legislation and why this discriminatory loitering crime goes towards California values and must be repealed.”
Wiener mentioned making arrests just because folks “‘appear to be’ intercourse staff is discriminatory and fallacious, and it endangers intercourse staff and trans folks of coloration. Anti-LGTBQ and racist loitering legal guidelines have to go. Intercourse staff, LGBTQ folks, and other people of coloration need to be protected on our streets.”
His workplace mentioned the present legislation permits police to scrutinize what the individual is carrying, how they’re shifting or who they’re speaking to in figuring out in the event that they’re a prostitute, the Bee reported.
The invoice would additionally enable these beforehand convicted to have these convictions dismissed and the file sealed.
Democratic Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan mentioned within the debate that the present legislation harms trafficking victims by “criminalizing the victims and leaving them with prison data that create additional obstacles to searching for employment, housing and aid.”
Assemblyman Jim Cooper was among the many Democrats who disagreed.
“The half about it’s these younger women on the market,” he mentioned. “What can we do then, how can we cope with that?”
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris added, “For me, when the unintended consequence is making it harder to guard victims of kid trafficking, even when it’s only a risk, that’s not one thing I can assist.”
The legislation may additionally empower intercourse traffickers, Stephany Powell of the Nationwide Middle on Sexual Exploitation, warned.
“It severely cripples legislation enforcement’s capacity to arrest and prosecute human traffickers and intercourse consumers. If it’s repealed, intercourse consumers would have immunity,” she mentioned.
She argued that lawmakers ought to concentrate on anti-discrimination legal guidelines that increase minorities out of being compelled into intercourse work.
“The idea turns into that girls who’re marginalized wish to do intercourse work and it nearly turns into, ‘Effectively, since that’s what you might be doing, we’re simply going to make it authorized so you are able to do it,’” she mentioned, in response to the Bee. “If we’re going to speak about issues like systemic racism, then use this vitality to repair the system the place intercourse work doesn’t must be their solely alternative.”
Proponents cited information that confirmed between 2017 and 2018 Black folks accounted for 56% of arrestees and ladies accounted for 67%, a quantity that may very well be increased if trans ladies have been counted as males, the Bee reported.
The invoice follows an analogous one signed into legislation final February in New York.
The Related Press contributed to this report.