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Is Prostitution a Crime in NSW?

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Is Prostitution a Crime in NSW?

In Australia, there is no consensus about laws relating to prostitution, with each State and territory taking differing approaches to legislating prostitution and sex work.

In NSW, Part 3 of the Summary Offences Act 1988 deals with prostitution and sex work.

In NSW, prostitution and sex work have been decriminalised but remain regulated. For example, sex work is prohibited in residential areas but permitted in commercial zones.

Specifically, the Act can be perceived as dealing with prostitution and sex work in two categories;

  1. Street Work and;
  2. Brothel Work

1. Street Work

Section 19 of the Act makes it clear that soliciting a prostitute is legal as long as it is not ‘near or within view from a dwelling, school, church or hospital.’ Taking part in a sexual act is also not prohibited unless, under section 20 of the Act, individuals are ‘near or within view from, a school, church, hospital or public place, or within view from a dwelling.’

2. Brothel Work

In NSW, sex workers are free to work in brothels as long as the premise discloses that it is a brothel and does not pretend to be another business. Section 16 of the Act verifies the need for disclosure, highlighting that any premises being held out as available for:

  • ‘massage,
  • sauna baths,
  • steam baths or
  • facilities for physical exercise, or
  • the taking of photographs,
  • or as a photographic studio,
  • or for services of a like nature’

shall not be used by sex workers as brothels.

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