LOS ANGELES — Free Speech Coalition President Diane Duke will defend the validity of sex work as a career in a debate tonight at Oxford University in England. The debate — part of the university’s storied Oxford Union debating society — will take on the following proposition:
“Historically, sex work has failed to be regarded as a legitimate career choice in western liberal societies. Whilst many would argue that the stigmatisation of sex has led to the marginalisation of a population within society, others see the sex industry as one which profits from exploitation and the objectification of human bodies. Should sex work be regarded as having the same value as more 'traditional' or 'conventional' professions?”
Joining Duke to defend the rights of sex workers are Catherine Stephens, from the International Union of Sex Workers; and Fabian Thylmann, former owner of Manwin. Opposing the proposition will be Dr. Heather Brunskell-Evans, of Resist Porn Culture; Dr. Finn McKay, of the London Feminist Network; and Sarah O’Brien, of Stop Demand.
“We need to end the systemic and patronizing bias against women and men who choose to work in the sex industry,” said Duke in advance of the event. “I hope we can have an honest debate about how to best empower sex workers in regards to health, safety, and legal rights. As we’ve seen time and time again, denying sex workers agency only strips them of hard-fought protections and drives them into the shadows where they have none. Sex workers need rights, not rescue.”
The debate, which will take place at 8:30 p.m. GMT is closed to the public and press, according to Oxford Union rules. However, the debating society will vote on the proposition after the conclusion of the debate. The 189-year-old Oxford Union is widely considered most prestigious debating society in the world.