January 23, 2021
Andrew Yang Calls For Decriminalization Of Sex Work In New York City

New Your City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang on Friday called for the decriminalization of sex work in The Big Apple.

"There are many people working as migrant workers in the sex industry that have been victimized and harassed," he said in a Twitter clip of the appearance posted by editor Jacob Henry.

"We need to decriminalize sex work here in New York City to show a model for what the better approach is. Right now these workers are being pushed into the shadows and being killed, mistreated, systemically marginalized. Their pain is being ignored by our city and community, and we can and must do better."
Yang appeared in the clip with New York City lawmaker Ron T. Kim, who said the politician's commitment came after a visit to the site where Yang Song died from a four-story fall during a "racist & targeted police raid." Kim noted that Song was previously sexually assaulted by a police officer.

The New Republic staff writer Melissa Gira Grant noted that Yang's campaign clarified that he supports the "full decriminalization" of consensual sex work and committed to cracking down on sex trafficking and individuals illegally soliciting minors.

As The Inquisitr reported, Yang previously proposed the partial decriminalization of sex work during his 2020 presidential campaign. The move received criticism from some, who noted that partial decriminalization — the Nordic/Swedish model — is not as effective at protecting sex workers as full decriminalization. Notably, Reason editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown claimed that his then-proposal would still require law enforcement to target individuals paying for sex and thus require stings on workers in the industry.

Elsewhere, University of Rhode Island professor Donna Hughes made a distinction between decriminalized and legalized prostitution. Notably, she said the former bars the state and law enforcement from intervening in any prostitution-related transaction or activities. The exception is if these activities are linked to situations where other laws apply.

New York City Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang speaks at a press conference on January 14, 2021 in New York City.
Getty Images | Michael M. Santiago

A ProPublica investigation previously revealed that the NYPD officers who are tasked with policing the trade focus almost exclusively on minorities and profit off of the city's sex work industry by making as many arrests as possible with little evidence to support them.

"These arrests are based almost entirely on the word of cops, who say they are incentivized to round up as many 'bodies' as they can," the publication reported.

The outlet interviewed dozens of lawyers, cops, and other experts, who all did not believe that the city's arrest figures for people using prostitutes — almost everyone arrested for such crimes in the last four years was not white — accurately reflect the racial patterns of individuals who purchase sex in the region.