The undersigned lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two Spirit and allied organizations mark the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers by calling for support for efforts worldwide to defend the lives and rights of all people involved in the sex trades.
We recognize that systemic homophobia and transphobia, disproportionate poverty and homelessness, widespread discrimination, and an absence of pathways to immigration status, frequently limit the economic and survival options of LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ youth and adults of color and transgender people. These conditions not only inform and can contribute to the involvement of LGBTQ people in the sex trades, whether by choice, circumstance, or coercion – they also increase the vulnerability to violence and abuse against LGBTQ people in the sex trades.
We recognize that, of the many LGBTQ people who are victims of hate violence each year, many are — or are perceived to be — involved in the sex trades. Many are targeted for violence in part for this reason.
Just one month ago we observed the Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we commemorate the lives of transgender people who have been targeted for violence. Many of the people we remember today — those lost to violence against sex workers and people in the sex trades — are the same individuals we remembered on November 20.
We recognize that all too often police and other officials abuse both LGBTQ people and people who are or are perceived to be involved in the sex trades. LGBTQ people involved in the sex trades are among those most at risk of violence, yet often face indifference when reporting violence. We recognize that profiling of LGBTQ youth of color and transgender people for prostitution-related offenses remains pervasive in many communities and harms all LGBTQ people, exposing us to violence at the hands of police, prison officials, and immigration authorities.
We recognize that the voices and visions of LGBTQ people who are or have been sex workers or involved in the sex trades have historically been — and continue to be — at the forefront of movements for LGBTQ equality and freedom worldwide, and must play a leadership role in informing our responses to violence against people in the sex trades.
We recognize that policy approaches focused on increasing safety, opportunity, empowerment, and harm reduction, and which focus on meeting basic needs for housing, living wage employment, and health care through voluntary, LGBTQ-affirming and non-judgmental services are essential to ending violence against people involved in the sex trades. We believe that harsh punitive approaches only increase vulnerability to violence among those they seek to protect.
We recognize that violence against sex workers and people in the sex trades is an LGBTQ issue, and we stand committed to ending it.
American Civil Liberties Union
Native Youth Sexual Health Network
Audre Lorde Project – New York, NY
Best Practices Policy Project
Persist Health Project – New York, NY
BreakOUT!, New Orleans, LA
Rainbow Response Coalition – Washington, DC
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Red Umbrella Project
Community United Against Violence (CUAV) – San Francisco, CA
Queers for Economic Justice
DC Trans Coalition – Washington, DC
Sex Workers Action New York
Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA)
Family Equality Council
FIERCE – New York, NY
Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) – Washington, DC
SWOP San Francisco Bay Area
Gender Justice Nevada
Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center – New York, NY
Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS) – Washington, DC
Streetwise and Safe – New York, NY
Human Rights Campaign
Sylvia Rivera Law Project – New York, NY
Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition
Trans Advocacy Network
Louisiana Trans Advocates
Transgender Education Network of Texas
Make the Road New York
Transgender Health Empowerment (THE) – Washington, DC
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
Transgender Law Center
National Black Justice Coalition
Trans Youth Equality Foundation
National Center for Lesbian Rights
Trans Youth Equality Foundation
National Center for Transgender Equality
The Trevor Project
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Coalition for LGBT Health
Women with a Vision – New Orleans, LA
National Council of Jewish Women
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health