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Opinion

Revolting whores and Black uprisings: Remembering our roots

Hundreds of people occupy a massive church, gathered in solidarity and protest.

A large banner reads: “OUR CHILDREN DON’T WANT THEIR MOTHERS IN PRISON”.

News crews gather outside, and for the first time in history, the needs of sex workers are heard across the globe.

It is 2 June 1975 in Lyon, France.

The country already has regressive laws against sex work, and is considering harsher penalties that could include incarceration.

This community of labourers organised against an oppressive state that was ignoring their murders, complicit in their dehumanisation, and tearing their families apart.

The police raided and broke up the protest, but its message was heard.

Across the globe, other sex working communities saw that we all face the same issues, and that we can do something about it.

This action sparked a worldwide movement for the full decriminalisation of sex work, and for the realisation of sex worker rights.

‘International resistance to police murder’

That story gives me chills every time I share it.

It’s so powerful, and I think it’s especially important to reflect on in our current climate.

June 2 every year marks International Whores’ Day.

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This month marks 51 years of queer survival since the Stonewall riots, and international resistance to police murder of Black people.

Nationally, sex workers have been fighting hard for decriminalisation, and Queensland even looks close to getting it.

But amid this pandemic, the government has been sneakily imposing restrictions on us and increasing police powers.

This is terrifying for those of us at whom the police aim their violence.

My friends are being targeted and entrapped by police, a practice that’s legal against sex workers.

People I care about have been sexually assaulted by police posing as clients – also legal.

‘Fighting common enemies’

To this day, persecuted communities around the world are fighting common enemies: hegemonic power and the militarised police force that protects it.

In Minneapolis and around the US, the Black community is saying “no more” to police and state violence.

Here in Australia, Aboriginal people have been saying “no more” to police and state violence since it first invaded these lands.

This International Whores’ Day, let’s remember our roots: a community fighting back against police and state violence.

Let’s stand in solidarity with those being murdered, and with those being brutalised.

Our community is as vast as it is diverse, and far too many of us know the pain of state-endorsed violence.

We stand together.

We say “no more”.

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