Montpelier City Council repeals sex work measures

Montpelier repeals prostitution ordinances
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 10:19 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Montpelier City Councilors made a unanimous decision to repeal two ordinances pertaining to sex work in the city. But some local residents voiced mixed feelings on Wednesday night’s decision.

“The problem with the ordinance’s language is that it’s sexist and dehumanizing -- bottom line,” said Henri June Bynx, a sex worker and co-founder of the Ishtar Collective. “Members of your community who engage in consensual sex work are asking to be recognized as human beings. We are not trying to evangelize our industry.”

The suggestion to repeal the ordinances was made by Montpelier’s Police Review Committee. As a member of the committee, Abbey Jermyn worked on the recommendation, saying it’s meant to encourage everyone in danger to use law enforcement. “It will not change any laws that outlaw sex work or human trafficking,” Jermyn explained. “In fact, Montpelier is one of the only cities in the state that has such an ordinance, and in striking it, we join the rest of the state in condemning violent, antiquated, and sexist language.

While councilors voted on the ordinance unanimously, some in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting say it will do the opposite to keep people safe, by making the city a hub for sex trafficking. “Unfortunately, prostitution itself is the only identifiable sign of the other crimes that accompany it,” said Diana, a Montpelier resident. “This should not become another no-go zone for law enforcement.”

City councilors encouraged members of the public that that won’t be the case. They say whether they want to encourage the Legislature to investigate decriminalizing sex work is a different conversation they can take up in the future.

Gov. Phil Scott earlier this summer approved a Burlington charter change decriminalizing sex workers after Burlington voters approved the measure on Town Meeting Day.

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