In April of this year, our blog featured an article by Rathi Ramanathan, UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board NGO Delegate for Asia-Pacific, on the challenges facing current sex worker advocacy and rights. Ramanathan explained how laws and the anti-trafficking movement are negatively affecting sex workers’ rights and access to HIV services. One obstacle mentioned was the US anti-prostitution pledge, a policy that requires all organizations that receive global HIV/AIDS President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding to explicitly oppose prostitution.
This policy has now been deemed as unconstitutional by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The judges noted that “compelling speech as a condition of receiving a government benefit cannot be squared with the First Amendment.” The ruling upheld a lower court decision from three years ago, that found in favour of three organizations that sued the US government in 2005.