According to the polling institute YouGov Blue, 52% of US citizens in a survey said they were in favor of decriminalizing prostitution. The proposal finds the largest support in the group of 18 to 29-year-olds. The fact that there is any movement at all on the subject is almost like a revolution in the notoriously sex-worker-hostile United States.
In a study published by YouGov Blue, it was found for the first time that a majority of US citizens are in favor of some form of decriminalization of prostitution. 52% of the respondents said that they were strongly or to some extent in favor of decriminalizing the oldest profession in the world.
So far, prostitution is completely prohibited in the USA. Only in some counties of the state of Nevada can sex workers go about their business under strict conditions.
With the so-called ESPLER project in California, there has been a movement for years that has been campaigning for the complete legalization of prostitution in the USA. A lawsuit by the group might soon reach the Supreme Court. However, it is questionable to what extent this makes sense at the moment, given the largely conservative composition of the court.
What the future of sex work in the USA looks like will, therefore, depend on the outcome of the US presidential elections at the end of the year, and not only with regard to prostitution. If Trump wins a second term in office, not only will the decriminalization of prostitution have no chance of success, but the conditions for the entire adult entertainment industry will become more difficult. After all, the ultra-conservative Evangelicals form an important base of Trump’s electorate. They not only expect him to abolish the right to abortion but also to take radical action against the porn industry, both online and offline.
The situation is rather confusing when it comes to the Democratic opponents, who are currently still arguing about who of them will fight against Trump. While the left-wing candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have indicated a cautious sympathy for decriminalization, all the other candidates are at best in favor of improving the living conditions of sex workers; but virtually none of them wants to talk about legalizing it. The candidates Kamala Harris and Corey Booker, who were watched with great hope by sex workers, have already dropped out of the race. For the others, the Scandinavian model is being discussed, a rather problematic approach in which sex workers are decriminalized, but the clients are still to be punished.
This model is highly controversial, as it often creates riskier work situations for sex workers and drives most of them underground, working in hiding so that their customers feel safe. This goes hand in hand with an unregulated, unsupervised market in which sex workers cannot advertise openly, nor can they work in safe, controlled places.
In the YouGov survey, 42% of younger respondents said they were »strongly« in favor of decriminalization, while 23% said they supported it »in some way«. Even among the 30-44-year-old respondents, 66% are in favor of decriminalization. Among older participants, on the other hand, support decreases sharply. This is a problem for decriminalization supporters since older Americans are more likely to show up at the ballot box than younger ones. And voters in the 45 to 60 age group reject a loosening of the ban on prostitution in any way or do not want to deal with the issue at all.