The D.C. Trans Coalition and the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance are calling on the D.C. City Council to defeat a bill calling for giving the city’s police chief authority to establish permanent “prostitution free zones.”
The two groups have joined civil liberates advocates in charging that a 2005 law creating the zones has resulted in improper targeting of transgender women and others for prostitution arrests. The law allows police to designate any public area a “prostitution free zone” for up to 20 days, allowing police to more aggressively crack down on prostitution in those areas.
The bill currently under consideration, the Prostitution Free Zone Amendment Act of 2012, would make such zones permanent.
“These policies have done little to eradicate prostitution but have succeeded in further marginalizing sex workers, low income people of color, transgender people, lesbians, gays and the homeless,” a statement issued by transgender advocates says.
“We do not need more policy that criminalizes people in our community,” the statement says. “D.C. residents demand that the D.C. Council find solutions to city issues that don’t involve arresting and locking people up because they are homeless, transgendered, or look like they are engaging in sex work.”
D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), the lead sponsor of the bill, has said street prostitution has been an ongoing problem in her ward and in other parts of the city and her legislation would help police control the problem.
Alexander’s bill was scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday before the Council’s Judiciary Committee, where GLAA and D.C. Trans Coalition officials were expected to testify against it.