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ACT Baffled By Prostitution Bill

ACT expected to support Justice Minister Phil Goff’s first moves yesterday to toughen up on crime after nearly a year in power. But his tiny 5 clause Crimes Amendment Bill left us baffled” said ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks.

“The Government said the Bill was to plug gaps in New Zealand law so we could ratify an international convention against child slavery and serfdom.

“But instead it seems to criminalise prostitutes for the first time, and to threaten 5 years jail for clients of prostitutes under 18.

“For decades our law has only criminalised pimping, soliciting and brothel keeping. Prostitutes and their clients have not been the primary target of the law.

“Only two weeks ago Government MP and gay activist Tim Barnett trumpeted his Bill to decriminalise brothel keeping and soliciting.

“We assumed that the Chairman of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee had tacit Government support. So why is the Justice Minister now moving in the opposite direction?

“You suspect legal incompetence rather than conspiracy, when ACT, Sue Bradford of the Greens a government ally in political correctness, and Ron Mark of New Zealand First all agree that a Bill lacks principle.

“If it is not incompetence, perhaps an unintended result of trying to wipe all references to marriage from our law, or is it an attempt to head off Mr Barnett’s Bill?

“The main puzzle is in Section 149 of the Crimes Act. It presently gives up to 5 years imprisonment for being paid to get ‘any women or girl to have sexual intercourse with any male who is not her husband’. The replacement for Section 149 reads ‘to procure any person for the purposes of prostitution with any other person’. The government says the change is gender nuetral.

“Prostitution is not defined in the Crimes Act. The Court of Appeal definition refers only to ‘a women offering herself as a participant in physical acts of indecency for the gratification of men in return for money’. So the Bill does not get the Government to gender neutrality.

“And more puzzling, it seems a back-handed and obscure way of criminalising prostitutes who procure themselves for physical indecencies. Perhaps the drafter thought you couldn’t procure yourself? Yet it seems plain that the new section is not intended just for procuring others, because it could have said so simply. In any event, for practical purposes, procuring others is covered by the other sections against pimping.

“Could this shoddy piece of work even be an effort to raise Mr Barnett’s profile? If we criminalise prostitution now he can claim to decriminalise it if and when his Bill is drawn, instead of being left to promote a Bill which is mainly to legalise brothel keeping and pimping, not prostitution, which is already legal,” said Stephen Franks.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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