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Package of bills would repeal anti-loitering laws used against prostitutes, among other measures.

A group of New York state lawmakers on Monday announced what could be a landmark effort to roll back laws against prostitution in the country’s fourth-most heavily populated states, an effort that could lead to legalization of consensual sex work in New York, according to an NBC New York report.

“The criminalization of sex work disproportionately impacts LGBTQI+ NYers, immigrants, and people of color,” wrote State Senator Brad Hoylman, chair the New York Senate Judiciary Committee and a co-sponsor of the legislation, on his Twitter account.  “It perpetuates stigma, and it furthers a devastating cycle of incarceration. We need change.”

Senators Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar, as well as New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, are also backing the proposed package of legislation. 

“Criminalization does not address why people trade sex, because most people trade sex out of economic need: to pay bills, make rent, and put food on the table,” wrote Ramos and Salazar in a New York Daily News op-ed on Monday. “Criminalization encourages rampant abuses by law enforcement. An estimated 94 percent of people arrested for loitering for the purposes of prostitution in Brooklyn and Queens are black women.”

The move in New York comes less than two weeks after a Rhode Island lawmaker introduced a resolution to study decriminalizing sex work in that state, as reported, and about two months after the mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, called for increased legal protection for sex workers, though stopping short of a call for full decriminalization.