It is not against the law to work as a sex worker or operate a brothel, nor is it against the law to pay for sexual services. Sex workers are allowed to advertise in classified sections of the newspaper, and online. However, it is against the law to facilitate anyone under the age of 18, into sex work.
New Zealand is the only country in the world with a law which aims to uphold the human rights of sex workers and to decriminalise prostitution. People who observe this country’s decriminalised approach, often term it The New Zealand Model.
The laws pertaining to sex work are the same as those for other workplaces in this country; sex workers are able to have the same rights as workers in other occupations. They are entitled to workplace protections and access to healthcare.
The role of the police in New Zealand is to work with the community to make it safe – and sex workers are considered part of the community. In other words, when sex work is decriminalised, sex workers have the same recourse to justice as other citizens.
In this section of our website, we look at the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 in greater detail. We have produced a video which explains how decriminalisation was achieved here. We also have videos which compare our laws to those of other countries.
International policymakers look to The New Zealand Model as a template for reform in their own countries. Decriminalisation is advocated by the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, Amnesty International, and peer-led sex worker organisations throughout the world.