On 2nd June 1975, around 100 sex workers occupied the Church of St. Nizier in Lyon, France, to protest state violence and police apathy and abuse. The occupation lasted eight days, and incorporated five other churches across France, before the police forcibly removed the workers from the building. This event is considered one of the foundations of the global sex workers' rights movement, and is commemorated annually on International Whores' Day.
45 years on, sex workers around the world are still facing the same injustices that the workers who occupied the church in Lyon were protesting against. The dangers of police raids, violence, arrests and harm are just as real today for workers in the UK and across the world. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demands of sex workers are more needed than ever before. It is also particularly pertinent that International Whores' Day this year not only falls within Pride Month, but during a time where the relationship between the state, police and its citizens - and particularly Black citizens - is under scrutiny and criticism. The links between justice for women, migrants, people of colour, queer people, trans people and sex workers cannot be overstated. Without justice for all, there can be justice for none.
This year on International Whores' Day, we reiterate our commitment to supporting all sex workers in their fights for safety, justice and rights. We ask the UK government to provide the protections that sex workers desperately need during this pandemic, and to ensure that their long-term workers' rights are protected by law, by the criminal justice system and by society. We once again draw attention to our demands of the government, and of adult services websites in our Stand And Be Counted statement, as well as the demands published by other sex worker-led groups, including the English Collective of Prostitutes, SCOT-PEP and ICRSE. In such vulnerable and uncertain times, sex workers need support and solidarity.
To the sex workers who, 45 years ago, sat in that church in Lyon, we say thank you. To the sex workers across the world who are fighting against injustice, we say thank you. To those who are supporting us in the global movement towards justice, we thank you also. We send our love, strength, solidarity and power to you all today.
To find out more about International Whores' Day, please have a look at: