Sex workers in California are fighting back against the current criminalization of their profession. The Erotic Service Providers Legal Education Research Project (ESPLERP) has filed a brief in response to the Northern California District Court’s verdict to dismiss the case of ESPLERP v. Gascon.
ESPLERP v. Gascon sought to repeal Penal Code 647(b), California’s anti-sex work law that makes it illegal to engage in the act of prostitution as well as solicit and agree to engage in the act of prostitution. ESPLERP has appealed the court’s decision to dismiss the case, upholding that Penal Code 647(b) is unconstitutional on the basis that it defies the precedent set in Lawrence v. Texas. Lawernce v. Texas was a Supreme Court Case in 1998 that affirmed an individual’s right to engage in sexual activity with another consenting adult under the right to privacy.
In addition to the appeal, a Care2 petition has been created urging California Governor Jerry Brown to meet with sex workers and discuss lifting the ban on prostitution. The petition currently has 8,767 signatures, 233 away from their goal of 9,000.
The petition argues the necessity of decriminalizing sex work, with one of the reasons being that “sex workers report that they face more threats from law enforcement than from clients. Police often threaten sex workers or even rape them in exchange for not sending them to jail.” Additionally, the statute “is used in a discriminatory manner against women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.”
Numerous amicus briefs have been filed in support of ESPLERP v. Gascon from organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Children of the Night, and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.