The Global Commission on HIV and the Law issued a report suggesting that nations eliminate laws banning “consensual sex work” — i.e., prostitution. It’s an interesting claim coming from an organization aimed at preventing sexually transmitted disease, but their hope is that legalization would lead to regulation and safer practice. We asked the public if prostitution should be legal.
Nearly two-thirds of the population admitted that it thinks prostitution should be legal. However, it’s important to understand that this doesn’t necessarily reflect the public’s moral opinion of the topic. The question is explicitly legal. Most people think it should be a choice. One commenter wrote, “By legalizing it, mandatory health screenings can be required for the safety of the prostitute and the buyer. Trying to keep it illegal only keeps the thing in the dark where roaches like to live. Bring it into the light of public attention and those roaches will scurry.”
Men Are More Willing
Should we be surprised that men were more likely to support the legalization of prostitution? Of course, the Global Commission was not referring solely to female prostitution, but it is more often thought of as a service targeted at men. Actually, the difference wasn’t that big. Men were only 11% more supportive than women. Women were still more likely to support legalization than refuse it.
Religion and politics provided the biggest defenders of criminalization — Christians and conservatives. Both demographics were significantly less supportive than the rest. Since religion and politics are often closely related, it’s probably not too much of a leap to assume that religion drives this one. Allowing the nation to embrace something that Christians consider to be immoral is a tough call to make.
Older Voters Are For It
Typically, older voters respond similarly to conservative voters. In this case, that means we would predict the older a voter got the less willing they would be to support the legalization of prostitution. Not so. Actually, most age groups were relatively similar. The only one that stood out noticeably was the 55-64 group, and they were 11% more likely to support legalization.