A leading figure in the UK sex trade has taken credit for a controversial draft policy document from Amnesty International which calls for legalised prostitution.
The suggestion that leading sex trade figure Douglas Fox had been a key factor in the organisation’s new draft policy document had been rejected by Amnesty NI at a Stormont Justice Committee hearing on Thursday
Mr Fox has been a campaigner for the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) and is a gay sex worker whose civil partner runs an escort agency in the north west of England.
Last night Mr Fox told the News Letter he was in no doubt that he could take credit for Amnesty’s new policy, which hit the headlines across the UK last week.
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”.
“I got a great deal of support for the resolution [in 2008] but the Amnesty board were not ready for a big divisive debate at that time, as they had just had one on abortion,” he said.
Asked if he believed his resolution was a significant factor in the content of Amnesty’s new draft policy, he replied: “It did play a part, yes. As far as I am aware I am the only person to forward such a resolution via a local Amnesty branch which then went to the AGM.”
He said his resolution “certainly focussed a lot of people on the plight of sex workers around the world. Certainly it did start a debate”. He left Amnesty a year later because of opposition from some board members.
However, he is now very pleased with the new draft policy. “It is exactly what I hoped for,” he said. “I am very very pleased that Amnesty has taken this position.”
Amnesty NI’s Grainne Teggart, who on Thursday fielded questions by Jim Wells MLA about the influence of Mr Fox, said last night that the 2008 AGM resolution was passed by the Newcastle City Group and not by an individual.
“That motion was rejected by Amnesty’s AGM,” she said. “The AGM then took the decision to call for a policy review, a decision that was opposed by Mr Fox.”
* The IUSW wrote to the Northern Ireland Assembly Justice Committee recently to clarify the numbers of members it had.
It said it was “a small closed organisation of ten individuals, none of whom are based in Northern Ireland” and that Mr Fox had recently left the organisation.