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Church leaders’ contribution important

Church leaders’ contribution important

Progressive leader Jim Anderton has welcomed a letter from New Zealand Church leaders opposing the Prostitution Reform Bill.

“Moves to decriminalise prostitution send an unwelcome signal that prostitution is socially acceptable,” Jim Anderton said today.

“Church leaders, in a statement I received today, say they believe that prostitution will be normalised by being decriminalised and that this step will draw more New Zealanders into the ‘sex industry’. I am also concerned by this probability.

“Whatever else we do to support those working in the sex industry, we must stop short of sending signals that suggest it is a constructive career option.

"If this Bill is passed and triggers a growth in the prostitution industry, then I believe Parliament will have failed New Zealanders.

“Parallels between this debate and those in the 1980s over homosexual law reform are being made. I do not agree with that comparison. I supported Homosexual law reform then because it sent a strong message that there should be no discrimination In New Zealand on the grounds of sexual orientation. But young and vulnerable people need to know that prostitution isn’t an affirming life choice.

“I believe policies leading to full employment, with high quality health and education services, as well as personal rehabilitation programmes need to be provided, and are more credible options than decriminalising prostitution.

“We want to have the minimum encouragement possible that selling one’s body is an acceptable or positive career path. This legislation, if passed, is likely to take New Zealand in exactly the opposite direction.

“I note that Australian political scientist Professor Sheila Jeffreys said today that legalising prostitution in Victoria is a failed social experiment. It was supposed to control illegal massage parlours and stop the industry growing. But Professor Jeffreys says the opposite has happened with a hundred licensed brothels in Melbourne and another 400 run by organised crime. Only recently the Police Commissioner has had to re-establish a vice unit to try to deal with those 400 brothels,” said Jim Anderton.

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