by Guy Page
A bill that opens the door to legalization of prostitution passed the Legislature this month and was signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott.
H18, introduced as a bill to expand and clarify the definition of criminal sex abuse of children, was amended by the Senate to give immunity against prosecution for suspected prostitutes who report crimes to law enforcement: “A person who, in good faith and in a timely manner, reports to law enforcement that the person is a victim of or a witness to a crime that arose from the person’s involvement in prostitution or human trafficking shall not be cited, arrested, or prosecuted” for prostitution and possession of illegal drugs. The House agreed with the amendment April 30. Gov. Scott signed the bill into law on May 17.
The immunity language appears to have been lifted by the Senate from H268, which not only provided immunity but also called for a Sex Work Study Committee “for the purpose of modernizing Vermont’s prostitution laws.” No action has been taken on H268. H268 also concludes that Vermont’s prostitution laws are rooted in racism and 19th fear of black men having sex with white women – a charge that is demonstrably inaccurate.