Sex Work Criminal Laws in Australia – Part Two


Queensland Sex Work

So in the last blog entry, we talked about the criminal laws with respect to New South Wales – the easiest state to deal with because its the “decriminalised” (sorta kinda) state of Australia. Now, remember, these blog posts are not blog posts which go into the regulations relating to council zonings (affecting brothels) or the health laws that affect sex workers. I will get to that.

Today we are looking at Queensland. Now in this state we have two kinds of laws thrown at us – firstly, the Prostitution Act and the various guidelines put out by the Prostitution Licensing Authority of Queensland and then we have the Criminal Code. All up, we have a body of laws that put Queensland into the “legalised” arena rather than the “decriminalised” area (we can have a great debate about the benefits of whether sex work should be decriminalised or legalised but that is for another time).

Sex Work Laws in Queensland

We had the Vagrants, Gaming and Other Offences Act 1931-1987 and the Criminal Code but that appears abolished now. Instead, we have moved to the Prostitution Act 1999 (‘the Act’) which have provisions which attract civil penalty provisions – and only few criminal provisions (because we aren’t in a “criminalised” state). The real criminal provisions lie in the Criminal Code (outlined below).

It would be impossible for me to outline the entire Prostitution Act 1999 (Qld) because it has over 300+ provisions in it, mainly with respect to brothels and their operation. However, I will pull out some interesting provisions which are worth noting.


Regulation of Sole Operators

The PLA has made it clear that they have authority over sole operators. They say “individual sex workers (‘sole operators’, ‘private workers’) are not prevented from conducting their business under the Act.”

Yet, in the same breath, says the following:

“However, the restrictions placed on sole operators continue to apply so that a single sex worker must not be found on premises with any other person, unless the other person has a current crowd controller’s licence under the Security Providers Act 1993 and is only participating in the provision of prostitution as a bodyguard. The law relating to prostitution by sole operators is contained in the Criminal Code and remains unchanged.

They state that sole operators still fall under the Act with respect to advertising and any prostitution advertising by sex workers must be in the approved form. It is an offence to publish an advertisement for prostitution that is not in the approved form. The guidelines on advertising can be found here:


All of the Offences Under the Prostitution Act 1999 (Qld)

There are a whole heap of them. Here they are by (very) summary. Some of them attract jail time!


Part 6–Offences Division 1–General offences relating to prostitution

73. Don’t publicly solicit for purposes of prostitution

74. There are exceptions to soliciting offences— ie. persons in licensed brothels

75. Exception to soliciting offences—police officers (YES, YES THIS IS AN EXCEPTION!!!!!!)

76. Don’t be a nuisance around a brothel;

77. Don’t make anyone, through threats or duress to continue prostitution;

77A. Its illegal to perform sex work and have sexual intercourse or oral sex without a prophylactic (condom) – its also against the law to ASK a sex worker to not use a condom.


Division 2–Offences relating to the operation of a licensed brothel

(This relates to the operation of licensed brothels)


Division 3–Offences relating to prostitutes working in licensed brothels

89. You can be whacked with a big fine as a brothel operator if you permit a prostitute who is infective with a disease to work in a licensed brothel

90. A prostitute working while infective with a disease will be guilty of an offence.


Division 4–Advertising offences

93. Advertising prostitution –

(1) A person must not publish an advertisement for prostitution that describes the services offered.

(2) A person must not publish an advertisement for prostitution that is not in the approved form.

(3) A person must not publish any advertisement for prostitution through radio or television or by film or video recording

94. You cannot advertise to induce individuals to become prostitutes.

95. Don’t advertise a place to be a massage service when really it is a brothel.


So that is the Prostitution Act 1999 (QLD). Now this is where is gets serious…

The Criminal Code (QLD)

This is when we start getting into the serious imprisonment stye offences, just like we saw the criminal laws in New South Wales.

Section 229G states that if you (a) procure another person to engage in prostitution, either in Queensland or elsewhere; or (b) procure another person (i) to leave Queensland for the purpose of engaging in prostitution elsewhere; or (ii) to come to Queensland for the purpose of engaging in prostitution; or (iii) to leave the other person’s usual place of residence in Queensland for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, either in Queensland or elsewhere; you are committing a crime.

That will earn you up to seven (7) years in jail.

Section 229H – this one is an interesting one and has SERIOUS impact on sex work in Queensland – A person who knowingly participates, directly or indirectly, in the provision of prostitution by another person commits a crime. Maximum penalty can go up to 7 years if it is your third or more offence. Examples of this is is someone is participating in the provision of prostitution by another person through a company, a person who provides financial or other resources to enable the establishment of premises from which prostitution is carried out or coordinated knowing that the premises will be so used, a person who receives financial or other benefit from another person engaging in prostitution in return for the procuring of clients, drivers, operators and hirers of vehicles who provide transport, or the means of transport, for prostitutes or clients knowing that the transport provided is assisting prostitution.a person who receives, directs or redirects telephone calls or other forms of messages, or who takes bookings or receives money, knowing that the action is in connection with the engaging in of prostitution by another person unless section 229HA(5) applies a person who participates, directly or indirectly, in any service, action or matter for the purpose of knowingly enabling another person to engage in prostitution. In other words – NO AGENCIES ALLOWED! SEVEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT FOR UNLAWFUL PROSTITUTION.


This is not the entirety of Queensland’s laws with respect to sex work so please do not use this as some form of bible, as it is only a guide to some of the more interesting provisions. Respect QLD have done a really good job at giving you a summary here —->

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.




One thought on “Sex Work Criminal Laws in Australia – Part Two

  1. Section 229H is fairly broad in its interpretation. Its intention was to prevent exploitation by third parties, but it also has the effect of:
    1: making “doubles” bookings illegal for private operators (doubles are still legal at licensed brothels)
    2: making it illegal for one private worker to make a recommendation (of another worker) to a client
    3: making it illegal for multiple workers to share premises, even if only one worker is present at any one time.

    At one time it was illegal to tell another party that one had a booking and when. This has since been relaxed so that a worker may inform another party of one’s whereabouts in relation to a booking for safety purposes.

    One should also be aware that the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act (2000) makes it legal for police in Queensland to ask for otherwise illegal services (eg. unprotected sex or doubles) while conducting sanctioned “Controlled Operations” (yes, in other words, legal entrapment)


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