Brothels: outlaws or citizens?

Penny Crofts
2010 International Journal of Law in Context  
Historically, sex services premises in New South Wales, Australia were regarded and regulated as illegal and disorderly entities; they were policed as outlaws. The Disorderly Houses Amendment Act 1995 [NSW] bestowed legal status, providing an opportunity to regulate sex services premises as legal subjects. Despite these reforms, in many areas brothels continue to be regulated more restrictively than other businesses. I argue that this is because, for many, brothels continue to be perceived as
more » ... o be perceived as outlaws. They are regarded as inherently unlawful, disorderly, and hence warranting and requiring exclusion from the community. I argue that this conception of brothels as outlaws is constructed and reinforced through regulation. In contrast, some local councils and Land and Environment Court decisions have taken up the opportunity to regard and regulate sex services premises as legal subjects or citizens. The conception of sex services premises as citizen imports an existing legal framework, with associated accountabilities, rights and responsibilities. This shift in conception results in people viewing sex services premises differently, experiencing them differently and regulating them differently. Part I: metaphors and brothels Prior to legislative reforms in 1996, brothels were illegal and subject to closure regardless of whether or not they were well run. The Disorderly Houses Amendment Act 1995 [NSW] provided that brothels could operate as legitimate businesses and were to be regulated by local councils. As a consequence, local councils have the power to regulate brothels through their plan-making
doi:10.1017/s1744552310000054 fatcat:4pplyzxw7jh5phkroju3ax43ya