Thursday 17 November 2011

Real Candidates for a Modern Victoria: Australian Sex Party to Run Sex Worker Candidate in Prahran

During the 2010 State election, I decided I wanted to run as a sex worker.  I felt like it was something I wanted to give back to my friends, very few sex workers were out publicly.  While this invisible, I believe stigma, prejudice and discrimination proliferate.  This was a first step for me, not only was I asking people to vote for me I was asking them to accept me as a sex worker to be a representative for them.  If they could accept me  then they could start to accept sex workers.  

Here's the media release:

In the district of Prahran, the Australian Sex Party is running Christian Vega, a sex worker and long term sex industry activist.   “Sex work is real and valuable work. We deserve the same human rights as everyone else.” Mr Vega’s work in the sex industry has been in a range of settings and with a diverse client base.  He specialised in working with people with disabilities and those who are HIV+.  “Our work is highly skilled; often having to overcome of many myths, sex-negative messages and stigma present in the community.”

Mr Vega is deeply concerned with the erosion of the human rights of socially excluded people.  “It’s no coincidence that the more a community is silenced, the greater the discrimination they are faced with.” Mr Vega feels that this is apparent in government policy.  “In areas where the government fails to effectively engage with people who are directly affected by legislation, policy has generally lead to more negative outcomes for those communities.  Sex Work is only one example.”

In Victoria, sex workers face onerous testing regimes for Sexually Transmissible Infections despite epidemiological evidence that indicates STIs are less prevalent amongst sex workers than the general community.  “It’s an example of how perception may be inaccurate yet is influential in shaping policy, and there are many other examples,” said Mr. Vega.  “When you think about it, medical professionals, people who work in food service and hospitality, and any number of other professionals with a potential impact on public health aren’t required to undergo these kinds of health checks, so why should it be any different for sex workers? It’s costly to the community, misinformed and discriminatory.”

The candidate for Prahran has worked hard to ensure sex workers have a voice.  He is an active member of Vixen, the Victorian Sex Industry Network, a social support group that connects workers in the industry in a much needed way. Christian is also the elected National Representative of Male Sex Workers by the Scarlet Alliance, the Australian Sex Worker Association. He has worked in community health for the past nine years, providing health education for workers in the industry as well as running a drop in service for street sex workers. “Sex workers are part of the community.  We can represent ourselves and we are sick of people feeling like they can speak on our behalf, especially when they are neither familiar with our issues nor have our best interests at heart. ”

Mr Vega is proud about running for the Australian Sex Party.  “We are a brave party, willing to go to extraordinary lengths to support human rights and civil liberties without fear.”

In a policy that was guided by Mr. Vega and formulated based on recommendations of sex worker organisations worldwide, The Australian Sex Party is seeking decriminalisation of sex work to replace the cumbersome and flawed regime of limited legalisation and over-regulation that exists in Victoria currently, “Because it is the best model for everybody,” says Mr. Vega.  “For those who are interested in reducing the harms related to the sex industry, evidence has shown that decriminalisation enables sex workers to make better decisions about their work.  In New Zealand it has lead to a reduction in street based sex work, maintaining sex worker rights without having to increase police sanctions against them. This is an achievement of taking a human rights approach.”

Regarding his involvement with the Australian Sex party, Mr Vega said, “I think it’s fantastic that a sex worker has had an opportunity to write the sex work policy of a political party. It’s an indication of the progressive direction we should be moving in; one that consults the community in a meaningful and powerful way.”

No comments:

Post a Comment