WGNRR statement on US Supreme Court Decision regarding Anti-Prostitution Pledge

The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) welcomes the news of the US Supreme Court ruling on USAID vs AOSI case and expresses appreciation to Pathfinder International and the fellow co-plaintiffs Alliance for Open Society International, Inc., InterAction, and the Global Health Council for challenging the 2003 law requiring organisations receiving US assistance for HIV programs to have “a policy explicitly opposing prostitution. Popularly known as “anti-prostitution pledge” this provision effectively denied any opportunity for sex workers involvement in the HIV prevention programming both as program partners and as beneficiaries despite UN consensus that such programming is essential for a successful HIV response. 
 
The US Supreme Court in a 6-2 decision ruled that the Policy Requirement of the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath, from the U.S. Leadership Act of 2003, violated the First Amendment, and is therefore unconstitutional. It implies that US organisations working overseas on HIV prevention no longer have to comply with this provision, which unfortunately still does apply to the foreign organisations including that sex workers led groups. 
 
Though partial, this victory is an advance for the sex workers movement.  As a global network of SRHR activists WGNRR takes the stand to support the human rights of sex workers. WGNRR affirms the need for protection and affirmation of sex workers’ rights.  WGNRR further opposes any law or policy on sex work that is developed without the input of sex workers themselves and that does not prioritise sex workers’ safety and well-being.  WGNRR rejects the inherent conflation of sex work with trafficking. We believe that while some sex workers are indeed trafficked persons, engaging in sex work and migration do not themselves indicate forced trafficking or a desire to return to the country of origin.
 
Keeping this important victory in mind, WGNRR would like to echo the reservations voiced by the Global Network of Sex Workers Project, namely that the policy still conflates sex work and human trafficking without making a stated distinction between the two, and does not speak in defence of sex workers human rights. It is a welcome step in the right direction, however, which may decrease stigma around sex work by allowing organisations in the United Stated that receive President’s Emergency Fund for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) funding to adopt a neutral stance towards sex work, and focus on implementing the programme based on the best scientific evidence and supported by the UN consensus. 
 
 
In Solidarity, 
 
WGNRR Team