So Rhoda Grant’s misbegotten Bill to criminalise the clients of sex workers has died the death it deserved. No more do we need to get angry about her consultation with its loaded questions or her wilful misrepresentation of the responses to that consultation. It’s all history. She failed as she deserved to.
With the benefit of hindsight we can see that her Bill was in trouble and that she knew it. What else would explain her sharing a debate platform with a frankly batty Evangelical Christian who apparently believes in curing gays, who thinks that consensual sexual activity should be criminalised just because he thinks it’s immoral. She said she would share a platform with anyone but it smacked of desperation and probably alienated people whose support she needed. Her pronouncements since Friday reveal her to be a stubborn and charmless person. She has listened to no-one who did not agree with her to start with and learned nothing. If reality doesn’t accord with Rhoda’s views it is, of course, reality that is at fault.
Nonetheless it is a wonderful thing that the powerful arguments against the Bill have prevailed against the evidence free articles of faith of Rhoda and her supporters, that those who demonstrated rather than simply asserting have won the argument. The battle now moves to Ireland, North and South.
It was a year ago that I stumbled across this issue. I read anything I could find on the debate, for and against. In doing so I came across a number of people, opponents of the Bill, who have been an inspiration and helped me to develop my own thinking not just on sex work but on the broader issues to which it is linked, issues of feminism and sexuality. Most of these people, but not all, are women. A number of them are sex workers, current or retired. All of them are clever, committed and unafraid to say what needed to be said, sometimes in the face of personal attacks. .
I will not mention names here. I know that some of them will be reading this. You will know who I mean. I want to say thank you and that I look forward to reading your Tweets and blog posts in the future and to engaging with you. Most of all I want to thank Rhoda Grant. Without her Bill I would never have met you.