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One giant leap forward for New Zealand

One giant leap forward for New Zealand

Green MP Sue Bradford said today that New Zealand has made huge social progress with the passing of the Prostitution Law Reform Bill last night.

"New Zealand should be proud of this day by making such a progressive and brave decision," said Ms Bradford, the Green Social Services spokesperson.

"This is a huge step forward for one of the most vulnerable groups in our community. This bill was not about encouraging people to join the sex industry, quite the opposite.

"The whole intention of this bill is to protect the health and safety of people in the sex industry, and I think that's good for the whole of New Zealand society. For example, sex workers who have been raped or abused can now approach the police without being seen as a criminal themselves.

"I congratulate Tim Barnett, the Prostitutes Collective, women's organisations and all the MPs who worked towards making such a positive and mature step," said Ms Bradford.

"There was a concerted and vocal campaign both within and outside parliament from a minority of people who claimed the moral high ground and it must be pleasing for all New Zealand that common sense has prevailed."

Ms Bradford said she understood the fears expressed by some in the Maori and Pacific Island communities, but expressed confidence that those concerns would be allayed once the bill became law.

"The fact is there are a lot of Maori and Pacific Island workers within the industry and they will now have significant protection of their rights as workers under this bill.

"It always has been extremely hard for any woman or man to gain employment elsewhere with a conviction for soliciting or brothel-keeping hanging over their head."

Ms Bradford said she respected the views of people opposed to law reform and welcomed the opportunity to review the reforms over the next five years.

"This review process is very important and the views of all people should be respected. We can then gauge how the bill has worked in practice and not base our support or opposition simply on moral or ethical grounds," she said.

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