The broad arm of the law

There’s no better way to wait for the Supreme Court to hand down a decision than watching another Supreme Court in action – which you can, if it’s the Supreme Court of Canada, who livestreamed yesterday’s hearing on prostitution laws. Hanging out on #bedfordscc were an international mix of sex workers, activists, and legal pros weighing in on the testimony all day, which could result in Canada adopting some form of decriminalized prostitution. It was riveting and like nothing else I’ve seen, this deep and free-wheeling and real-time conversation about sex work policy and human rights, with just the right amount of sass and optimism. (And maybe by the time the United States is ready for our own national hearing on these laws, we’ll have opened up the Supreme Court to some form of photography.)

The US Supreme Court still hasn’t decided the case I went to go watch in oral arguments this April, on whether or not requiring AIDS funding recipients to adopt an anti-prostitution position is constitutional under the First Amendment. I’ve got a new story on the anti-prostitution pledge policy up at The Nation, paired with infographics on the HIV funding and prevention landscape.

As soon as the Supreme Court rules, which could be as soon as Monday, I’ll have an analysis up, too.

Also on the legal front: Scotland is considering criminalizing the purchase of sex, and recently published the results of an ostensibly open consultation with the public. I spoke with senior staff at Amnesty International, who were concerned that the consultation gives the impression that they support criminalization, after a local Scottish chapter of Amnesty submitted a brief in support of the bill (which featured some of the most shabby “human rights documentation” I’ve ever read). Amnesty International is demanding that chapter remove its endorsement under Amnesty’s name, and for the first time, offered public support for sex workers’ rights by opposing criminalization and the conflation of sex work with trafficking. You can read the whole scoop in my story at the New Statesman. (And huge thanks to NineMollyJem, and Jewel for their work mining through and wrestling with all the documents that came out of the Scottish consultation.)

(This is an excerpt from my email newsletter, Inside MGG. Subscribe to get updates from me each Friday in your inbox.)

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