The international organisation’s board has been authorised to develop and adopt the policy, despite criticism
Amnesty International has voted to support the full decriminalisation of the sex trade.
In a historic vote at its Dublin international council meeting delegates from around the world voted to allow the organisation’s board to adopt the policy.
“Sex workers are one of the most marginalised groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse,” Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International said.
“Our global movement paved the way for adopting a policy for the protection of the human rights of sex workers which will help shape Amnesty International’s future work on this important issue.”
The resolution recommends that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work.
It was not a decision that was reached easily or quickly and we thank all our members from around the world for their important contribution to this debate
The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence.
The issue of legalising the sex trade is hugely controversial.
When it became known Amnesty International planned to vote on the issue it was immediately criticised by members of the public, celebrities and other organisations.
An open letter signed by 600 national and international women’s rights groups got thousands of signatures of support condemning the organisation.
They say the policy won’t help those who are forced in to the sex trade and is effectively legalising brothels.
A statement from Space International (Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse Calling for Enlightenment) said the sex trade is a “damaging, dehumanising and demeaning system of exploitation which should never be decriminalised”.
Full decriminalisation of the sex trade, it says, gives free reign to punters, pimps and traffickers.
Space instead supports the Swedish Model which only makes it illegal to buy sex and not sell it.
This method has however also been criticised with fears it could drive the sex trade further underground.
In reaching its decision Amnesty International said it carried out two years of research and consultation and concluded full decriminalisation is the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights and lessen the risk of abuse and violations they face.
Shetty added: “It was not a decision that was reached easily or quickly and we thank all our members from around the world, as well as all the many groups we consulted, for their important contribution to this debate.
“They have helped us reach an important decision that will shape this area of our human rights work going forward.”