Tasmania Next in Line to Regulate Sex Industry

Rhett Pardon
SOUTH HOBART, Australia – As most governments wind up finding, it’s better to legalize some practices than to suffer the ill effects of driving it underground.

And that’s exactly what’s going on in Tasmania, an island state of Australia.

Tasmania is just months away from regulating the prostitution industry, and the government is gearing up by crafting legislation.

A draft of a bill, released in February, would require brothels to seek planning approval and meet a series of conditions to obtain a license to operate. It would require sex workers and clients to use condoms and undergo mandatory screening for sexually transmitted diseases, but it would also restrict clients or sex workers from soliciting in public.

Performing a sex act for money is legal in Tasmania under existing laws. But it is illegal for a sex worker, or someone acting on their behalf, to loiter in a public place to attract clients. It also is illegal to live off the proceeds of prostitution.

On Wednesday, a major brothel is opening in anticipation of the new regulation of Tasmania's sex industry. The brothel is located in South Hobart and is planned to be the first to operate 24 hours a day.

Tasmania will join Sydney in legalizing brothels when it enacts a new law later this year, and New Zealand passed a law legalizing brothels last year.

In other parts of the world, the move to legalize or regulate prostitution is gaining speed.

Belgium is weighing allowing brothels. Currently self-employed prostitutes are legal in Belgium but brothels are not. The country is following neighbor Holland, which did so three years ago.

Since Dutch brothel girls are now legitimate workers, they have had to start paying income tax, boosting the government’s revenues by $57 million.

In Cape Town, Africa, the tourism authority sees the sex industry and the region's brothels as a tourist attraction.

And in the United States, Nevada has allowed brothels in most of its counties since its inception into the union.