According to the Independent newspaper, a lower court’s decision last year was overturned by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco allowing a legal challenge to move forward. There is now a strong chance for prostitution to be legalised in California. Even the conservative judge Carlos Bea, a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals, said “Why should it be illegal to sell something that is legal to give away?”, opening the debate around the 145-year old law that bans prostitution.

Sex workers’ fight for their rights

Back in 2015, a group of three unidentified former sex workers, one potential client and the San Francisco-based Erotic Service Provider Legal, Educational and Research Project (ESPLERP), filed the Case arguing that the current law “unfairly deprives consenting adults of the right to private activity, criminalises the discussion of such activity, and unconstitutionally places prohibitions on individuals’ right to freely associate". The president of ESPLERP, Maxine Doogan said it is their “hope is to see this bad law struck down, so that consenting adults who choose to be involved in prostitution are simply treated as private citizens again, and are afforded all the privacy and constitutional rights thereof”.

There are legal basis and precedents that open good prospects

The lawyers for the plaintiffs basing their argument on a 2003 Supreme Court’s decision regarding gay rights, opposing Lawrence vs.Texas, which found that consensual sexual conduct was part of the “personal and private life of the individual”, and protected by the due process liberty right.

They also argue that this current law doesn’t protect the sex workers, who end up being too vulnerable to abuses.

Amanda Goad, from the American Civil Liberties Union of California, said they "see this is an important issue both as a matter of liberty and as a matter of equality", and that ultimately, the LGBTQ community is often disproportionately affected by the law and targeted for prosecution, and also that women working in prostitution are arrested more than the men who buy sex from them.

She also pointed out the huge difference "between consensual sex work and exploitive sex trafficking" so often seen as the same problem.

It would be a huge step in the United States

California introduced the law banning prostitution in 1872, and currently, the law defines prostitution as a misdemeanour. It is also not the first time the issue is brought to the public sphere. In 2008, a ballot measure to decriminalise prostitution in San Francisco was introduced to vote, but it failed with 60 percent of the votes against it.

Aside from a few counties in Nevada, in every state in the US, prostitution is illegal, although, in Hawaii, some legislators introduced a bill to decriminalise it back in February. California, if the case turns favourable, would be the first state to fully legalise prostitution.