Sex workers heavily opposed new legislative measures intended to protect sex trafficking victims in the state of Florida. Even though prostitution is illegal in the state of Florida, sex workers did not want their organizations included in the definition of human trafficking.
Opponents of two bills proposed by lawmakers gave testimony of the risks associated with the registration of sex workers. House Bill 851, if passed would require massage parlors to train and create policies that prevent and require acts involving the solicitation of sex in the workplace to be reported and recognized. The second proposed legislation, Senate Bill 540, geared toward hotels and other public lodging establishments to train employees and have a policy related to the reporting of the same in place. Both Bills originally required names of individuals violating the law to be made public.
The sex workers present during the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee are part of a nonprofit organization in Tampa Bay called the Sex Workers Outreach Project whose mission is to remove the stigma of prostitution. During testimony, heard by the committee from sex workers in Florida, suggested that these measures confused consensual paid sex with human trafficking and that it was harmful to the cause overall.
Community organizer, Christine Hanavan argues that registering sex offenders and sex workers would increase human sex trafficking rather than aid in abolishing it. Hanavan works closely with the Sex Workers Outreach Project in Orlando and Sex Workers Behind Bars, an organization that provides a community for incarcerated sex workers. Hanavan said. “We need to stop going after men who pay for sex and go after the men who think they can just take it.”