International human rights lobby group Amnesty International has approved a policy to push for the global decriminalisation of the sex trade.
Delegates in Dublin this week approved the resolution to recommend “full decriminalisation of all aspects of consensual sex work”.
It argued that decriminalisation is the best way to defend the rights of sex workers, rejecting complaints by women’s groups who said it meant supporting what they call pimping and brothel-owning.
The move comes after controversial new legislation came into force in Northern Ireland this year which criminalises the purchase of sex - a move which Amnesty lobbied strongly against. The same measure is currently under consideration in the Republic.
During evidence sessions in Stormont last year, Amnesty found itself defending its then-draft policy on legalising prostitution, which at that time had just been leaked to the media.
Mr Fox claimed credit because as a member of Amnesty’s Newcastle city branch in 2008, he brought a resolution to that year’s AGM which urged the organisation to “support sex workers in their fight for decriminalisation”.
The motion was only partially passed, but he went on to urge sex trade associates to join Amnesty and lobby from within for it to be fully adopted.
On Wednesday Mr Fox, an activist with the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW), claimed credit once again - this time for the final vote in Dublin.
“I am delighted that the process myself and Newcastle [city] Amnesty branch started all those yrs ago has resulted in support for decrim[inalisation],” he tweeted.
He told the News Letter afterwards: “I am of course delighted that Amnesty has taken the decision to support decriminalisation. As a human rights organisation I would have been shocked and dismayed if it had reached any other decision.
“I am proud that I brought the resolution for decriminalisation with the support of the Newcastle branch.”
However he added that he had “no direct involvment” in Amnesty’s research into the issues since his AGM resolution, other than “other than, along with other groups, to write in support of decriminalisation and the positive effects of decriminalisation on the health and safety of sex workers”.
Amnesty’s Grainne Teggart responded that Mr Fox had not been a member of Amnesty for many years and he has had “no input whatsoever into Amnesty’s policy on protecting the human rights of sex workers”.
She added: “Claims that he has are absolutely without foundation.”
She declined to say by what margin the vote was passed, describing it as “an internal matter”.