House bill looks to decriminalize NH prostitution

House bill looks to decriminalize NH prostitution

CONCORD – A representative is hoping to pass a bill that would legalize prostitution in New Hampshire for consenting adults.

1st term Rep. Elizabeth Edwards of Manchester said her bill was influenced by an Amnesty International study that supports worldwide legalization for sex workers.

“Sex workers are not able to negotiate and organize for their rights, or for access to the justice system when their livelihood is a crime,” Edwards said.

House Bill 1614 “legalizes consensual sex between consenting adults and makes any solicitation of sexual contact involving a person under 18 years of age or through the use of force or intimidation a felony.”

The bill is creating a stir, and according to House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, strong efforts will be made to be sure the bill doesn’t pass because “society is just not ready for that,” Hinch said.

“We’re going to put a full court press in from the leadership standpoint to make sure that (the bill) doesn’t have a lot of daylight to it,” Hinch said.

Opponents suggest legalizing sex work would spread disease, increase violence and encourage sexual predators.

Edwards said it’s a misunderstood issue and she believes legalization will encourage sex workers to use condoms, get necessary medical help, report assault, and it will free up law enforcement to refocus “on human trafficking and things that aren’t consensual.”

The House is expected to have hearing on the bill by the end of January and a vote will take place by mid-February.

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