You are here

Tell the European Parliament to Vote Against the Criminalisation of Clients


Letter to MEPs and statements in:

italiano deutsch españoromân português polski suomalainen francais slovak 

A guide to action for individuals and organisation


On the 27th of February 2014, the European Parliament will vote in favour or against a report "on prostitution and sexual exploitation and its impact on gender equality". This report conflates sex work and trafficking and denies our agency. Though the report mentions our vulnerability to HIV and STDs, it ignores all recommendations from the World Health Organisation or UNAIDS. Unsurprisngly, the main recommendation of this report is the criminalisation of the purchase of sex.

554 organisations worldwide, including 466 in Europe have already signed our statement denouncing this repressive and inneffective measure whilst 70 academics and researchers have endorsed a counter report showing the lack of evidence of the Honeyball report.

We are asking you to take action and tell your Member of European Parliament (MEP) to vote against this report and against the criminalisation of our clients.

What you can do:

Some tips about writing to your MEP

• Personalised letters always have a big impact on policy-makers. MEPs also tend to have 
fewer people getting in touch with them than MPs – as a result it may be easier to make 
your voice heard. 
• You have more than one MEP (between three and ten per region). Therefore you have a 
range of European policy makers that you can influence and that are accountable to you! 
Top tips for writing your letter 
• Do use the letter overleaf as an example, but where possible please don’t copy it word for 
word. Your own personalised version will be much more powerful. 
• Try and explain why you care about this issue and what you want your MEP to do right at 
the start of your letter – use the bullet points as provided at the bottom of the 
template letter. 
• Keep your letter short and to the point: one side of A4 should be more than enough. 
• Remember to provide a postal address and to ask for a response (and please let us know if 
you receive one). 
  • Call your MEP. Once you have emailed your MEP, you can also follow this with a phone call so that he/she understand the importance of the question. You can call the Switchboard of the European Parliament, between Monday and Thursday and ask to talk directly to your MEP: + 32 / (0) 2 28 4 21 11
  • Ask your organisation to endorse our letter. Sex workers' rights, HIV and health organisations, service providers, anti-trafficking and many LGBT and women's rights organisations, civil liberties and migrants' organisations have spoken against more repressive measures against sex workers. By endorsing this letter, your organisation can demonstrate its solidarity with sex workers and commitment to our struggle. Email info [at] sexworkeurope [dot] org with name of your organisation, website and country.



Letter template.

Click here for letter template in english in word document.

Link to letter in German signed by 34 organisations from Germany, Austria and Swtizerland:
Link to letter in French
Link to letter in Slovak:

Letter template (english version):

[YOUR MEP’s NAME]                                                                                        

 find him/her here

European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
60 B 1047




Regarding the vote on 27th of February 2014 on Ms Honeyball’s report on sexual exploitation and prostitution


To: Members of European Parliament

Regarding: the vote on 27th of February 2014  on Ms Honeyball’s report on sexual exploitation and prostitution


Dear Members of European Parliament,

The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) and the  554 NGOs and Civil Society Organisations listed below (466 in Europe, 554 internationally) urge you to reject Ms Honeyball’s report on sexual exploitation and prostitution.

The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, FEMM has voted to support the criminalisation of clients of sex workers, a policy that, under the guise of protecting women, will only increase their vulnerability. This policy goes against the recommendations of all sex workers groups as well as hundreds of health organisations, women’s and LGBT rights organisations.

The reality is that the criminalisation of clients has not only been ineffective in reducing prostitution and trafficking, but also been evidenced as increasing the vulnerabilities of sex workers. And contrary to the claims of Ms Honeyball, it has also led to the criminalisation of sex workers.

Amongst other evidence, a recent Police report from Sweden mentions that: “In 2009, the National Bureau of Investigation estimated that there were about 90 Thai massage parlours in Stockholm and vicinity, most of which were judged to be offering sexual services for sale. At the turn of 2011/2012, the number of Thai massage parlours in the Stockholm area was estimated to be about 250 and throughout the country about 450.”[1] Such numbers are a clear indicator that the Swedish model has been ineffective in its main mission.

In Norway, where the purchase of sexual services has been criminalised in 2009, Pro-Sentret, Oslo’s official help centre for sex workers, published a report based on a survey of 123 active sex workers that clearly demonstrate that sex workers are now less likely to demand protection from the police because of the increased stigma and the understanding that they themselves are seen as criminals.[2]

Many organisations working with victims of trafficking and migrant sex workers are also denouncing Ms Honeyball report and the conflation of sex work and trafficking. We also remind MEPs that there is no evidence that legalised prostitution increase trafficking:  Regarding the relation between legalised prostitution and human trafficking, The Dutch National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking in Human Beings concluded “that it is not (yet) possible to give an answer to the question of the extent to which legalisation of prostitution leads to more human trafficking.” [3](November 2013)

A large number of HIV and health organisations have warned policy makers of the dangers of criminalising either sex workers or their clients.  Worryingly, the question of public health is largely ignored in this report. We quote UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work in their 2011 report to accompany the UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work (2009):

“States should move away from criminalising sex work or activities associated with it. Decriminalisation of sex work should include removing criminal penalties for purchase and sale of sex, management of sex workers and brothels, and other activities related to sex work.”

Finally, we denounce the ideological bias and lack of evidence of the report. A letter and counter-report signed by more than 70 academics and researchers and published on ICRSE’s website  clearly demonstrates that this report is not based on data and evidence and should not be accepted by the European Parliament.

The position of the European Parliament's Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee and the criminalisation of clients are based on ideology and denounced by all sex workers organisations in Europe as well as many health organisations, LGBT and women’s rights organisations (including Transgender Europe[4], the German Women’s Council[5] and International Planned Parenthood Federation – European Network,). La Strada International, an anti-trafficking NGOs network,  have also issued a statement against the Honeyball report.

For our safety, health, respect and human rights, we say NO to the Swedish Model of criminalisation of clients and we ask you to:

·         Vote against Ms Honeyball’s report on sexual exploitation and prostitution.




The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe – network of 59 organisations in 28 countries in Europe and Central Asia.

Contact: info [at] sexworkeurope [dot] org


Organisations endorsing this letter:

Regional and international networks: NSWP, Global Network of Sex work Projects (represents 128 organisations in 28 countries); APNSW, Asia Pacific Network of Sex Work projects (represent 58 member organisations in 25 countries) ; SWAN, Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (represents 23 organisations in 21 countries); TAMPEP International Foundation, European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers; AIDS Action EuropeCORRELATION network, European Network Social Inclusion & Health; EATG, European Aids Treatment group; INPUD, International Network of People who Use Drugs; International Planned Parenthood Federation –IPPF European Network (includes 40 members organisations in 40 countries); Transgender Europe (represents 79 organisations in 31 countries); ICW, International Community of Women living with HIV/Aids; La Strada International, European NGO Network against Trafficking in Human Beings (represents 12 NGOs in Europe)

Funders: Red Umbrella FundMama Cash

National organisations in Europe:

AlbaniaStop AIDS-Action Plus, Humanitarian organization
Austria: maiz, autonomous centre for and by migrant women in Linz; LEFÖ/TAMPEP, Support and European Network for Migrant Sex Workers, Sexworker Forum Verein, sexworker forum association, Vienna; Aids Hilfe Wien, AIDS/HIV Service Organisation
Belgium: vzw Pasop, service provision for sex workers in Ghent; Espace P, sex workers’ service providers, Bruxelles, Ghapro, health care and assistance for male and female prostitutes, Antwerpen
Bosnia and Herzegovina: PROI
Croatia: NGO Flight 
Denmark: Sexarbejdernes Interesse Organisation
Estonia: AIDS Tugikeskus, Aids information and support center
Finland: Pro-tukipiste; Feminist Initiative -network , Finland
France: ARAP-Rubis Nîmes, Action communautaire avec les personnes prostituées, service provider for sex workers, Association Griselidis, community-based health organisation, Toulouse; ACCEPTESS-T transgender rights organisation; STRASS, French union of sex workers; PASTT; Autres Regards, sex workers service provider, Marseille; Collectif Droits et Prostitution, collective of 9 organisations for the rights of sex workers; Support Transgenre Strasbourg
Germany: BesD - Trade Association Erotic and Sexual Services; Hydra e.V., Meeting and counselling centre for prostitutes, Berlin; Deutscher Frauenrat – Lobby der Frauen, National Council of German Women’s Organisations (umbrella organisation of more than 50 nation-wide women's associations and organisations); Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe e.V.  (DAH) is the umbrella association of 130 organisations in Germany, including ASOs, prevention projects, drug help centres, residential and health-care projects, and self-help networks; move e. V., association for education and communication between sexwork; Online-Magazin “menschenhandel heute” Online magazine for a critical and human rights based approach to human trafficking and related topics, like sex work and migration; Projekt „Nachtfalke“, Support for Male Sexworkers in Essen; Niedersächsische AIDS-Hilfe Landesverband e.V. (NAH) (AIDS Service Organization in Lower Saxony;Nitribit, Meeting and counselling centre for prostitutes, Bremen; Madonna e.V., Meeting and Counselling Centre for Sexworker, Bochum; BSD, German association of sexual services; Münchner AIDS-Hilfe e.V., AIDS Service Organization in Munich; Phönix, counselling centre for prostitutes, Hannover; Theodora, (Consulting for prostitutes ad job changing for women an girls, Herford; AIDS-Hilfe Aachen e.V.‘ AIDS Service Organization in Aachen; Ban Ying e.V.,Koordinations- und Beratungsstelle gegen Menschenhandel, Coordination- and consultation office against trafficking, Berlin; Regenschirm e.V., Self-help organisation for people, who work in the field of prostitution; Ban Ying Zufluchtswohnung e.V- Zufluchtswohnung für Migrant_innen, shelter for Migrant Women; Ratschlag Prostitution Hamburg, Advice Group on Prostitution, Hamburg; TAMPEP-Germany, European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers; BASIS-Projekt - Health Care Prevention for Male Sex Workers and their Customers, Hamburg; ragazza e.V. Support for drug using female prostitutes, Hamburg; Ver.di Fachbereich 13 Hamburg- trade union verdi, area 13 for special services; OPERA BildungsRaum, basic vocational courses, job-related qualification, support, counselling and information for sexworker, Nuremberg; Kassandra e.V. counselling, information, professionalization and support for sexworker, Nuernberg; bufas e.V, Union of conselling organisations for prostitutes; HAW, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences,department social work; DSTIG, GSSG – Charitable Foundation Sexuality and Health, as legal body of the project, Foundation for Sexuality and Health
Greece: Positive Voice
Hungary: SZEXE, sex workers advocacy association
Ireland:, Working together for sex workers' safety in Ireland
Irish Sex Workers Alliance, alliance of individuals (sex workers, ex-sex workers and others) and organisations involved in health and social support services
Italy: Associazione radicale Certi Diritti; Rete Italiana della Riduzione del Danno, Italian network of harm reduction; LILA Onlus, Lega Italiana per la Lotta contro l'Aids -Italian League for Fighting Aids. Centro Antiviolenza Antistalking La Nereide Onlus, Siracusa;  MIT-Movimento Identità Transessuale, Bologna; ARCI GAY nazionale, Associazione XXD, association publishing monthly feminist e-magazine; Progetto Stella Polare, project North Star, Paths of Social Protection to facilitate processes of self-determination and to support those who are asking to get out of situations of serious sexual and labor exploitation; Le Graziose - CDCP Genova; Comitato Diritti Civili delle Prostitute Onlus, Committee for the Civil Rights of Prostitutes; PIAM Onlus, project migrant integration, Asti; Associazione culturale Etnoblog- Trieste; Equality Italy
LithuaniaDemetra, Association of HIV affected women and their families;
Macedonia: STAR-STAR, sex workers' rights organisation; Healthy Options Project Skopje; Coalition Sexual and Health Rights of marginalized communitiesESE, Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women in the Republic of Macedonia; Opcija – OhridOpen Gate – La StradaReactor - Research in Action; NGO HELP Gostivar, work with sex workers and needle exchange
Netherlands: The Dutch Platform on Sex Work; Rights4Change, making human rights work; Buro Brycx, advice on prostitution; Sex Work Projects STI Aids Netherlands-;Tampep International Foundation
Norway: PION, association for the interests of prostitutes
PolandSex Work Polska, Coalition for sex workers’ rights; Social AIDS Committee; Stowarzyszenie Program STACJA, 'Program STACJA' Association; La Strada Poland
Portugal: APDES; RTS, Portuguese sex worker network; Associação Acompanha; Associação Existências; Associação Novo Olhar; Associação Positivo; GAT, HIV/AIDs organisation; Liga Portuguesa Contra a Sida; Obra Social das Irmãs Oblatas do Santíssimo Redentor; Médicos do Mundo; Panteras Rosa; SOS Racismo; UMAR
Romania: Carusel Association, Romanian human rights and harm reduction NGO;  ACCEPT Association, the first LGBT rights NGO in Romania;Romanian Harm Reduction Network, Romanian network formed by 11 harm reduction NGOs; ARAS – Against-AIDS Romanian Association, HIV/AIDS service NGO in Romania; Spiritual Police, Human Rights NGO aiming to raise awarness on active civic consciousness and solidarity; Feminist Centre SofiaNadejde, antisexist, antiracist, antitransfob, antihomofob, anti-ablist and anticapitalist group, Bucharest; H.arta group, knowledge production and (re)writing histories to gender issues in global capitalist times, Timisoara, Romania; Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives, supports public initiatives in promoting human rights and non-discrimination; Society of Contraceptive and Sexual Education (SECS), sexual education, HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning and maternity services, Romania; Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience Association, fights discrimination based on faith and religion in Foundation Center for Critical Consciousness,  official branch of Center for Inquiry, Transnational in Romania; CeRe Resource Center for Public Participation,  fighting for a political environment where citizens actively participate in the decision making process, Bucharest; Foundation Family and Child Protection, protection to children in need of assistance, Bucharest; Center for Action and Responsibility in Education CARE, community development and provider of opportunities for students, teachers and parents, Bucharest; Alliance to Fight Alcoholism and Drug Addictions ALIAT, prevention, care and treatment services in addictions, Bucharest; Parada Romania Foundation, services for homeless children, young people and families
Russia: Silver Rose, sex workers’ righst organisations; UHRA, Ukraina and Assistance
Spain: Projecte dels NOMS-Hispanosida; Fundación Triángulo, LGBT rights' organisation
hetaira, sex workers’ rights organisation, Madrid; Comite de Apoyo a las Trabajadoras del Sexo (CATS)
Slovakia: Odysseus, Harm reduction organisation; Zuzana Pachová, Civic organization Helping Hand
Switzerland: ASPASIE, association for prostitutes and their rights, Geneva; Verein Lysistrada, health improvement and consutation for sexworkers in Olten; Prokore, swiss network for improvement of working conditions of sexworkers; FIZ, FIZ Advocacy and support for migrant women and victims of trafficking, Switzerland;MariaMagdalena, Conselling center for women in sexwork, prevention an health promotion in kanton St.Gallen; Association Boulevards, Geneva
Sweden: Rose Alliance, sex workers' rights organisation
Turkey: Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association, MoreL LGBT, LGBT rights organisation, Eskisehir
Ukraine: All-Ukrainian League "Legalife"
United Kingdom: English Collective of Prostitutes, for sex workers' rights and better wages and welfare for women; Sex Worker Open University, advocacy, support and events by and for sex workers, London, Leeds, Glasgow; International Union of Sex Workers, campaigning organisation for the human, civil and labour rights of those who work in the sex industry; X-TALK, sex workers-led cooperative offering english classes to migrant sex workers and interventions on themes of migration, labour and gender; Scot-PEP, promoting health, dignity and human rights for all involved in sex work, Scotland; UK Network of Sex Work Projects, UKNSWP (represents 60 front line service providers in the UK); GNGS - Glasgow Network for Gender and Sexuality (network of feminist and LGBT orgs in Glasgow) 



Sponsored and hosted by byte.