EU Parliament Adopts Resolution Endorsing Nordic Model

BRUSSELS—A divided European Union (EU) Parliament has adopted a non-binding resolution recommending the findings of a report suggesting that member countries should adopt the Nordic model of criminalizing sex buyers and decriminalizing sex workers. 

Civil society organizations, including the international non-government organization Human Rights Watch, criticized the EU Parliament for adopting the “harmful” proposal on Sept. 14 that calls for bloc-wide adoption of such laws.

“Calling for the purchase of sex to be a criminal offense puts the health and safety of women, queer people, and migrants at risk,” Erin Kilbride, a women’s and LGBT rights researcher for Human Rights Watch, said Monday

“The fact that the majority of parliament members did not vote in favor of this dangerous resolution signals that they recognize what the data makes clear: criminalization leads to violence against the very people it purports to help.”

There were 234 votes in favor, 175 against, and 122 abstentions from parliament members. 

Human Rights Watch is affiliated with the European Coalition on Sex Workers’ Rights and Inclusion—a coalition of civil society groups that published an open letter to members of the European Parliament on September 11.

Other organizations affiliated with the coalition include Amnesty International, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance and the Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice.

“[Criminalization] of any aspect of sex work, which is proposed by this report, does not protect the rights of women and others engaged in sex work for manifold reasons and does not help address the very serious issue of human trafficking and forced [labor],” the organizations write.

The organizations also point to peer-reviewed research backing their claims. 

One such reference includes an analysis published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, criticizing the Nordic model of regulating sex work.