By Guy Page
The Montpelier City Council Wednesday night, August 24 will review and likely vote on its proposed repeal of the city’s anti-prostitution ordinance.
Unlike an earlier draft of the repeal, the latest draft does not support or discuss bills in the Vermont Legislature to legalize prostitution. During the last discussion of the repeal in early August, city councilors expressed concern about weighing in on statewide legislation.
The meeting begins at 6:30 pm at City Hall on Main Street. The repeal is #7 on the agenda. A decision on the repeal language may follow the discussion. Public opinion will be heard at some point during the meeting.
The current language, subject to the proposed repeal (see Pg. 182 of the August 24 meeting’s informational packet), reads:
No female person shall be a prostitute, or shall ply the vocation of a prostitute, or shall subject her person to prostitution, in the city; and no male person shall associate with such female person for the purpose of prostitution. Sec. 11-707. HOUSE OF PROSTITUTION. No person shall keep a house of prostitution, or suffer or permit prostitution in any building or other place, owned or occupied by him, or part thereof; or be an inmate of any house of prostitution or ill-fame, or in any manner contribute to the support or maintenance thereof; nor shall any person having control of any building or other place lease or rent the same, or part thereof, to any prostitute or other person to be kept or used, or knowingly suffer or permit the same or part thereof to be kept or used, as a house of ill-fame or for the purpose of prostitution.
“The language of 11-706 has been a concern for some time,” Town Manager Bill Fraser said in the informational packet. The Police Review Committee recommended removing this ordinance in its entirety. The City Council voted June 22 to place this repeal on the agenda for first reading, he said.
Members of the public may speak out on the proposed repeal in person at the City Council Chambers, City Hall, Main Street; online via Zoom (Meeting ID: 830 8896 9165 Passcode: 246353), or via phone: 1-929-205-6099.
Repeal supporters say it will allow prostitutes to pursue their chosen line of work without the need for a human trafficking ‘pimp, without concern about legal ramifications and with more access to mental health, drug abuse, and other social services.
Opponents say the profession is inherently exploitative to women,that human trafficking will continue because the prostitute needs someone to source his/her business, and that regardless of legality the pimp will continue to control the prostitute with drugs and violence without fear of retribution by the prostitute. Police say legalizing the profession will give law enforcement even fewer tools to separate the prostitute from the clutches of the pimp.
Supporters of the municipal repeal say (correctly) that state law will continue to make prostitution illegal. However, the declared intent of many supporters of both the Montpelier and Burlington prostitution ordinance repeals is to repeal the state law, as well.
Categories: Local government