Sex workers protest at Federal Building

A group of sex workers will rally in front of the San Francisco Federal Building at noon today to protest the Bush Administration’s controversial “anti-prostitution loyalty oath,” which they say requires non-governmental aid organizations to explicitly oppose prostitution as a condition of receiving U.S. funds to provide HIV services.

Around 25 people were expected to participate, according to Carol Leigh, a member of the Sex Workers Outreach Project and one of the event’s organizers.

“We want the general public to be aware of the anti-prostitution loyalty oath and we want it rescinded,” Leigh said. But the event also was spurred by “Operation Strikeout,” a police operation that resulted in the arrests of more than 100 Bay Area prostitutes and their customers during San Francisco’s All-Star festivities.

“We want to give services to sex workers before they are arrested, not to use arrest as a form of rescue,” Leigh said.

“We stand behind the list of recommendations of the San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution,” she said. “We need to empower people who are working in the industry and who are also responsible members of the community to have a say in the policies that affect them.”

Today’s rally was organized in conjunction with the San Francisco Sex Worker Art and Film Festival taking place this week.

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