Cartoon: Courtesy; Defending the Undefendable
Sex workers have hailed a recent judgment by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal as a victory although it has some disturbing ramifications for property rights within the state and nationwide. The ruling effectively means that owners of accommodation do not have the right to be selective about what guests they accept.
Prostitution has been around for nearly as long as mankind itself and has been the subject of prudish attempts to stamp it out for most of that time. It is probably the oldest existing example of the failure of prohibition policies to achieve their stated aim. Such policies, like those on drugs, alcohol, and a host of others, not only fail but also tend to create a burgeoning industry in corruption and kickbacks.
Proving the old adage that the government cannot get anything right, the legalization of prostitution has created the situation where accommodation owners now have an obligation to provide premises for the conduct of this activity:
Prostitutes have descended upon small towns near the large mines in record numbers over the past few years, determined to take a slice of the mining boom. They advertise their arrival in town in the local newspaper and see up to 10 clients a night. Motel owners claim they deter other customers.This is fairly typical of one of the major problems facing Western society today, in that ‘rights’ are being determined by bodies with no real concept of the underlying right to individual freedom. The result is that the right of some persons to do as they please appear to trump the rights of others to make a similar choice where those choices are in conflict.
But when the owners of the Drover's Rest Motel in the mining town of Moranbah, which services the Peak Downs mine in Queensland, tried to turn away a sex worker known as "Karlaa" she sued in the tribunal, using the Anti-Discrimination Act, which bans discrimination on the basis of lawful sexual activity.
She argued her use of the bed was no different from somebody who checked into a motel and used the phone or internet for business. Prostitution is legal in Queensland. …
The full judgment has not yet been released, but QCAT confirmed Karlaa's victory. She is seeking $30,000 compensation.
Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive Richard Munro said the industry would have to examine the judgment before deciding whether to appeal "but in general terms, we say that it should be up to the owner, the proprietor, the licensee, to protect the amenity of their business."
Governments have little understanding of the principle of non-coercion, under which transactions are meant to be voluntary and involve reasonable agreement between the parties involved, in the absence of force.
It is a standard business practice for the owners or operators to have a target clientele and set standards to encourage that group, which in some cases may preclude certain activities taking place there, or encouraging others. Their right to do so has been squelched in this case.