Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sex Workers Claim Rights To Occupy Motels

Remember GK, the sex worker from the Gold Coast that habitually uses motels to conduct her trade?
"GK, a sex worker from Gold Coast reckons she is being discriminated against by a motel in Australia’s Queensland state that refused her a room and has sought $30,000 in compensation.
In this case, GK alleged discrimination after being turned away from a motel claiming that under Queensland law she was permitted to engage in lawful sexual activity. 

The sex worker has also claimed that she was asked unnecessary questions about being a sex worker and that the motel charged over-the-odds because of her status as a sex worker."
 GK lost her case against the motel: 
"It was pleasing that the Anti-Discrimination Commission dismissed the case. It was ruled that the moteliers did not refuse future accommodation to a sex worker because of her occupation, but rather because they did not want prostitution undertaken in their motel.
It was concluded that an accommodation business owner can dictate some questionable activities that guests engage in from their guest rooms that includes conducting "business activities." 
GK, appealed the decision and at the conclusion of the hearing this week has won!
"Motel win for booming sex trade  

SEX workers were last night celebrating a stunning victory in their battle against motel owners in the booming mining towns, after the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled in favour of a prostitute who complained of discrimination after being told she could not rent a room.
The decision is likely to have ramifications for hotel and motel operators across Australia, who could now find themselves in breach of the anti-discrimination laws that exist in every state if they try to turn away prostitutes."
Although I can't yet find the full legal decision online - from media reports the latest decision is based upon the simple premise that sex workers using a motel bed to conduct trade should be treated no differently from other guests that may conduct business in a motel room by using the telephone or internet.

New Zealand motels that operate under similar laws to Australia should be looking at this latest bizarre ruling with concern. The decision indicates that moteliers are no longer permitted to turn away
sex workers intending to use motel rooms for prostitution.

Before moteliers start changing their check-in procedures and erecting red neon, clearly this decision needs to be tested again - and quickly. 

If the hapless Aussie moteliers that endured financial and emotional turmoil going through a legal nightmare are unable to launch an appeal from their own resources, hopefully the Accommodation Association of Australia will step in to assist with support including improved legal representation.

If moteliers blindly accept the ruling that they no longer have the right to turn away sex workers that intend to ply trade from motel rooms, there are a few unanswered questions:

Is the motel owner exposed indirectly by participating in the provision of prostitution, by enabling a person to engage in prostitution through the provision of the room in which the prostitution occurs?

Is a motel owner obliged to rent rooms to as many sex workers that turn up?

Once rooms occupied by sex workers reaches a certain quota, is the motelier obliged to apply for a brothel licence to avoid being charged with having an interest in premises used for prostitution?

Motels are regularly used by families as part of the travelling public and children are likely to be present. Does the motelier have a duty of care to minimise exposure to  minors if prostitution is occurring at the motel?

Some motels hold liquor licenses that have been issued to premises that have a stated businesses use. Does the motelier by knowingly accepting sex workers to conduct business from motel rooms breach the Sale of Liquor Act?

And most importantly, how does this decision change the motelier's common law entitlement to refuse accommodation if it is believed that a guest’s presence would cause annoyance to other guests?

While the latest decision apparently strips away the rights of a motelier to refuse certain trade, there is an irony that under Australian and NZ law, a sex worker can refuse to service a client for any reason, even after a contract has been established and money changes hands.

Unlike the hapless motel owner, a sex worker is not required to qualify a reason for refusal of sexual service!

We await for the appeal with baited breath...

Click the "Get Widget" link below to place this widget on your website or blog!