Working Girls Battle Motel Owners In Legal Stoush
The mining boom has led to a boom of another kind – sex workers flying in to do business with lonely miners. The prostitutes have to stay somewhere to carry out their work, so they book into motels.
Prostitution is not a crime, and sex workers are perfectly within the law to ply their trade. But motel owners are also within the law to refuse someone a room if they consider them to be unruly or disturbing other guests.
The clash was inevitable. It happened in the Queensland town of Moranbah where thousands of mine workers fly in and out each week. A Gold Coast woman, known only as GK, stayed at a motel 17 times before the owner twigged she was bringing clients to her room.
They banned her from their motel. But GK sued the motel owners on the grounds her work is legal, and banning her breached anti-discrimination laws. Her lawyer argued in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal that she was carrying on a legal business in her motel room, just like any other travelling business person. The lawyer argued the fact GK used the bed for her work rather than the desk was irrelevant.
She won the case, and hotel owners around Australia shuddered.
Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive Richard Munro said: “Sex work isn’t illegal and as long as it doesn’t disturb other guests I don’t think many people have a problem. The problem is when someone sets up a business and operates it within another business.”
Maybe so, but Queensland’s anti-discrimination laws were initially prompted by motel owners refusing rooms to Aboriginals, not by people working from their room.
The Scarlet Alliance, representing sex workers, said the decision showed systemic discrimination against sex workers is not acceptable.
It was an interesting legal conundrum: One law supported hotel owners while the Anti-Discrimination Act backed the travelling businesswoman.
So this month the Queensland government changed the Anti-Discrimination Act to make it legal for hotel and motel owners in Queensland to discriminate and to deny accommodation to sex workers.
Ironically, it’s still OK if a man rents a room and brings in a call girl.