California governor signs legislation protecting rights of sex workers
© WikiMedia (Steven Pavlov)
California governor signs legislation protecting rights of sex workers

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 233, legislation meant to protect sex workers from prosecution in certain situations, into law Tuesday.

SB 233 will protect sex workers who report being a victim or witness of a serious felony, including sexual battery, assault, domestic violence, extortion and human trafficking, from being charged with certain offenses related to prostitution or a misdemeanor violation of the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

Additionally, SB 233 bans using possession of condoms as evidence of sex work. Prior California law had mechanisms that allowed possession of condoms as evidence in certain situations.

Existing law specifies a procedure by which condoms may be introduced as evidence in a prosecution for various crimes, including soliciting or engaging in lewd or dissolute conduct in a public place, soliciting or engaging in acts of prostitution, loitering in or about a toilet open to the public for the purpose of engaging in or soliciting a lewd, lascivious, or unlawful act, or loiter in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution.

Instead, SB 233 will prevent the introduction of possession of condoms as evidence in connection to prostitution cases. The legislation comes as states like New York explore decriminalizing sex work.