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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 19:17 GMT
Greens vote to decriminalise prostitution
prostitute on the streets
Brothels should be licensed, say the Greens
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By Brian Wheeler
BBC News Online political staff
The Greens have become the first political party in the UK to back the decriminalisation of prostitution.

Brothels should be inspected and licensed to prevent exploitation of women by pimps and other criminals, according to a motion that received the overwhelming support of the party's spring conference.

And there should be new laws to protect women forced into prostitution and to prevent trafficking of sex workers.

The Greens are now expected to lobby the police in London to improve the treatment of illegal immigrants forced into prostitution, through their two members of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Only the Greens have been brave enough to raise the issue

Hugo Charlton, Green Party

They are also expected to raise the issue at a European level, through their two MEPs.

Home Affairs spokesman Hugo Charlton told BBC News Online: "Only the Greens have been brave enough to raise this issue.

"Many years ago when we backed the legalisation of cannabis people thought we were mad - but it is now at the top of the political agenda."

The party believes prohibition is not working and says "all aspects of sex work involving consenting adults should be decriminalised".

Vanessa Hall, the Green's women's issues spokeswoman, told delegates: "There are serious wrongs being committed to people in the sex industry.

"The people who work in the industry want to pay tax and national insurance and have rights like workers in any other industry."

Prostitute approaches man in car
Prohibition is "not working", according to the Greens

Under the Green proposals, brothels would be inspected and licensed at a local level and street prostitution would be decriminalised.

The proposals have been drawn up after consultation with the International Union of Sex Workers.

The Greens took up the cause after London MEP Jean Lambert was lobbied by constituents.

"Not all prostitutes are victims.

"Not all prostitutes are on drugs.

"There are women who choose to work as prostitutes and go into the sex industry.

"That is an area of work they choose to go into.

"They have to be protected and so do the victims of the sex industry," Ms Hall told the conference

See also:

02 Mar 02 | England
Prostitutes to vote to join union
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