Only rights can stop the wrongs: sex workers organise in Scotland

We’re in the middle of Glasgow’s Sex Worker Open University event (5-10 April 2013). Unfortunately I was only able to attend yesterday’s panel sessions, much as I would have liked to attend other things. So, with yesterday fresh in my mind I’m going to write up a few thoughts right now. Follow the link above to find out more about upcoming events, or follow them on Twitter at hashtag #SWOU13 or the event’s Twitter feed @SexWorkerOU.

International Union of Sex Workers logo

If you are a feminist who is swithering about what the issues are and where you stand, maybe this post will help you. If you want women to be safe, sane, respected and valued, please fight with me for decriminalising sex work in Scotland.

Supporting Sex Workers in Scotland: Kill the Bill

We were fortunate to hear about some solid and grounded research into the effects of criminalisation, and conversely, of de-criminalisation of sex work at the event yesterday. It was pretty clear that the Private Member’s Bill ‘ The Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex’, soon to be brought before the Scottish Parliament by Labour MSP Rhoda Grant, is ill-conceived at best, and callously indifferent to its likely consequences at worst.

Let me just note here: the evidence against any benefits to this type of legislation, as presented at the event yesterday, is extensive and convincing, and the evidence for the benefits of de-criminalisation likewise. I cannot do it justice here so please use links and references to do your own research.

Rhoda Don't Erode Our Rights banner from SWOU13 protest at STUC office, Glasgow.

SWOU13 protest at STUC office, Glasgow, 6 April 2013

When I first heard about this Bill, it was framed for me as ‘end demand’. I was pretty naive at that point about the current rhetoric and framing of sex work at the nexus of radical feminism and the religious right. I had fluffy thoughts about the concept of ‘end demand’ like “yes, it would be nice to live in a world where sex work wasn’t necessary”. I didn’t think it through. I genuinely believed that this ‘end demand’ thing was about bringing about an ideal society where noone wanted to buy access to sexual services, because everyone would be perfectly happy and fulfilled with the intimacy and sex in their lives. This is not what ‘end demand’ means.

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Free Speech and Harassment: A Reply to Lallands Peat Worrier.

Free Speech and Racial/Sectarian Harassment: A Reply to Lallands Peat Worrier.

I believe passionately in the right of free speech, freedom of belief and freedom of religious practice. Contemporary laws in Scotland have criminalised sectarian hate speech in certain contexts. I believe that this is right and just. I don’t think this negates my belief in freedom of speech or belief.

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On the Jury and Sectarian and Sexual Violence: A Response to Lallands Peat Worrier

I’m a big fan of Lallands Peat Worrier, his blog, his Tweets and his person; he’s on the side of angels and he has a lovely brain the size of a planet. His latest post disturbed me a little though, so here is me writing out my understanding of why I’m disturbed. I also ramble into more of a response to the content of his post and the case it discusses: the implications of the Neil Lennon sectarian / assault case for Scotland’s anti-sectarianism law.

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Some thoughts on assisted suicide

I wrote the following piece 17 months ago but as the issue of assisted suicide is still live (sorry, couldn’t resist it); note this news item from yesterday about Glaswegian Helen Cowie, and the Strathclyde Police announcement that they are not investigating the case of her son Robert’s death in Switzerland.

Margo MacDonald sparked controversy!

Margo MacDonald sparked controversy again recently with her assisted suicide bill. Or did she? There was considerably less drama surrounding this bill because she has Parkinson’s disease, and hearing those arguments from a shaking woman is powerful. Most of those who feel obligated to condemn right-to-die legislation on grounds of faith and/or morality are rarely in the company of folks who have to live in deteriorating and dysfunctional bodies.

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