PARIS — France lawmakers today approved a piece of legislation that makes it illegal to pay for sex, with fines starting at €1,500 on up to €3,750 for second offenses.
France now is one of only a handful of European countries to follow the Nordic model (Norway and Iceland) of criminalizing consumers rather than sex workers.
The new law, passed by 64 votes to 12 with many members of Parliament absent, creates the fines and requires violators to attend classes on the harms of prostitution.
The new law also treats the sex worker as a victim rather than a criminal, and it will make it easier for foreign sex workers, many of them deemed illegal in France, to acquire a temporary residence permit if they start on a program to find other work.
In France, prostitution itself — receiving money for sex — is not a crime; however, in 2003 the government passed a law banning “passive soliciting” by street prostitutes in places like Pigalle (red light district) and the Moulin Rouge. The new law scraps that measure.
The operation of brothels, as well as the pimping and the sale of sex by minors, remain illegal.