Majority of MEPs vote against or abstain on Prostitution Report

On 14 September, the European Parliament adopted the report “Regulation of prostitution in the EU: its cross-border implications and impact on gender equality and women’s rights, 2022/2139(INI)”.

LSI, together with other members of the European Coalition on Sex Workers’ Rights and Inclusion, had called on MEPs to vote against the report.

While the report passed as a (non-binding) resolution, significantly more MEPs voted against or abstained than voted in favour.

“It is definitely a partial victory”, said Sabrina Sanchez, Director of the European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA). “We believe MEPs’ decision to vote against or abstain on this resolution is in recognition that the evidence overwhelmingly does not support the report. It is ideologically driven, which is simply a terrible way to make policy.”

A group of MEPs had gained support for the removal of the sections that were most harmful to sex workers. They were voted separately and/or were split. Importantly, MEPs voted against the introduction of the Nordic model throughout the EU, seeing it removed from the resolution entirely.

Suzanne Hoff, the LSI International Coordinator, said: “While we regret that the resolution passed, we are pleased that MEPs voted against the introduction of the ‘Nordic Model’ and that so many voted against or abstained. This shows that many shared our concerns. The report is clearly biased, conflates sex work with human trafficking and makes assumptions that lack evidence. It even contradicts the latest EU statistics and misinterpret the definition of human trafficking. This is shameful to see from an EU body”.

The Nordic model has been widely criticised by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, UN agencies such UNAIDS, UNFPA and UNDP and the World Health Organisation, and by anti-trafficking organisations like LSI, GAATW, and the Freedom Network. The European Court of Human Rights is currently assessing the model as it is in force in France since 2016. In 2021, the ECtHR found a case in which 261 sex workers brought a lawsuit against France admissible. Two weeks ago, it acknowledged that the mere existence of the law has a negative impact on sex workers.