Law/Justice

Belgium Decriminalizes Prostitution

I believe this makes Belgium the most liberal country in Europe, perhaps anywhere, when it comes to prostitution laws. The closest competitor is probably New Zealand.

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason

Belgium is the first country in Europe to decriminalize selling and paying for sex.

Belgium is decriminalizing prostitution, making it the first European country to do so.

A number of European countries have legalized prostitution. That means it’s allowed under specific and highly regulated circumstances but still a crime outside these parameters. For instance, in Greece, sex workers must register with the state and have a professional certificate, get twice-monthly medical exams, and work in a licensed brothel in order for their labor to be legal.

Other European countries have instituted asymmetrical criminalization, in which selling sex is allowed (under certain circumstances) but paying for it is not.

But Belgium is the first European country to officially decriminalize selling sex, paying for it, and working with sex workers, under a proposal put forth by Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborn and approved by Parliament last week.

“In terms of sex work, this is a historic reform,” Van Quickenborne said in a statement. “It ensures that sex workers are no longer stigmatised, exploited and made dependent on others. Belgium is the first country in Europe to decriminalise sex work.”

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