By Guy Page
A scheduled Burlington City Council vote tonight could open the door to full, unregulated legalization of prostitution.
The Council is scheduled to vote tonight repealing charter provisions related to prostitution (including brothel keeping, buying sex, and selling sex) without replacing it with updated norms. The council already repealed city ordinances related to the sex trade.
The proposed charter change, if approved tonight, would have to go before the voters, likely at the City Meeting in March. Then – like all municipal charter changes – it would require approval from the Vermont Legislature. If given legislative OK, Burlington could become a no-arrest, anything-goes sanctuary for prostitution.
“Councilor Perri Freeman and her voting block of seven need to see and hear us and know that they can’t pass these changes with nobody noticing,” a statement from local members of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation said this morning. “The city council is endorsing a Full Decriminalized regime.”
As reported Friday in Vermont Daily Chronicle, the change would to reconsider the current language, “to restrain and suppress houses of ill fame and disorderly houses, and to punish common prostitutes and persons consorting therewith.” The term “sex work” has been seen rapidly replacing ” prostitution ” as the go-to terminology in the 21st-century vernacular by those pushing to decriminalize it and who are promoting it as a legitimate profession.
Legalized prostitution can take at least two forms: decriminalization, in which law banning it are struck down but no ‘legal’ structure replaces it; and a more structured, regulated legalization governing the industry, in much the same way Vermont has instituted a regulated marijuana industry.
While state law banning prostitution trumps any city ordinance, the proposed charter change could prompt statewide action, the statement said.
Due to pandemic concerns the 6:15 pm meeting may meet physically, but either way concerned citizens may comment during the public forum (scheduled for about 7:15 pm) part of the meeting via Zoom. Each speaker is allotted two minutes. Interested speakers must first fill out an online form.