Libertarian Party

Libertarian Party Adopts New Sex Work Plank, Becomes Only Notable U.S. Party to Endorse Prostitution Decriminalization

The LP's move comes the same week the Green Party explicitly rejected a platform that protects sex worker rights.


Gail Orenstein/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom

The Libertarian Party officially "supports the decriminalization of prostitution," according to a new plank in the party's political platform. This makes the L.P. the only notable U.S. political party to stand unequivocally for sex-worker rights and in opposition to cops caging people for consensual sex.

"We assert the right of consenting adults to provide sexual services to clients for compensation, and the right of clients to purchase sexual services from consenting sex workers," reads the new language, adopted by vote today at the Libertarian National Convention in New Orleans. The convention brings together Libertarian Party members for forums, speeches, and debates, while delegates vote on proposed amendments to the party's platform and bylaws and who will be the national leaders.

After some debate Monday morning, delegates adopted the decriminalization amendment as Plank 2.8 of the party's platform. The previous platform made no mention of sex work or prostitution. The language of the new amendment was drafted by sex workers, and L.P. delegates rejected a similar amendment in order to approve the sex-worker-penned version.

The L.P.'s move comes the same week America's other most popular third party, the Greens, explicitly rejected a platform that protects sex worker rights.

"In a not surprising, yet still disappointing, move," the Green Party "failed to pass a platform resolution calling for the decriminalization of sex work," the Sex Workers Outreach Project noted on Twitter this morning. "Instead they retain their current platform which recommends 'Nordic' model criminalization and conflates trafficking with [sex work]."

The "Nordic model" puts more emphasis on prosecuting sex buyers than sex sellers and lets some sex workers avoid arrest as long as they do so under very specific circumstances.

In voting that ended July 1, Green Party delegates rejected a proposed platform amendment that would add the decriminalization to the party's official platform. The measure was co-sponsored by the Green Parties of Alabama, Colorado, North Carolina, and Utah and the Lavender Greens and Youth Greens. "It is the opinion of the authors of this document that the party's current stance on sex work…is morally indefensible, ideologically incoherent, and politically damaging," they suggested. The amendment failed.

The Democratic platform makes no mention of prostitution or sex work, though it does contain at least a dozen references to sexual orientation. The Republican platform also avoids commentary on prostitution, though it does claim that "Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the lives of millions."