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German chancellor says sex work is unacceptable

November 15, 2023

German chancellor Olaf Scholz has said that the sale of sex is not acceptable and called for a clampdown on sex work.

People walking down the 'Reeperbahn' in Hamburg
Prostitution is legal in Germany, including on the 'Reeperbahn' in HamburgImage: Stanislav Belicka/imagebroker/IMAGO

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he would like to see further legal restrictions on sex work in Germany, adding that the sale of sex is "not acceptable" and shouldn't be "normalized."

"I don't think it's acceptable for men to purchase women," he during a question-and-answer session in the German parliament, the Bundestag, on Wednesday afternoon.

"It is something that has always morally angered me," Scholz said, "and we have to do all we can to clamp down on it."

Scholz didn't respond directly to a demand from opposition conservative lawmakers to prosecute "people who purchase the services of sex work," but he did say that prostitution was often linked to abuse, violence and criminal structures, adding that he would welcome a discussion on how to combat that.

Is sex work legal in Germany?

The conservative Christian Democrat/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) faction in the Bundestag has called for a ban on the purchase of sex by customers, but for sex workers themselves to remain unpunished, referring to similar regulations in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada, France, Ireland and Israel.

The European Parliament has also spoken out in favor of a ban on sex work along the lines of the so-called Nordic Model.

Last week, German Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Minister Lisa Paus, of the Greens, said the government was not planning any changes to Germany's Prostitutes Protection Act. She pointed out that the law, which came into force in July 2017 and is intended to strengthen the legal position of sex workers, is under evaluation until 2025.

Sex work has always been legal in the Federal Republic of Germany (including the former West Germany), but promoting it was considered "immoral" and was a criminal act until 2002.

In the German Democratic Republic (the former East Germany), sex work was illegal and officially nonexistent.

mf/lo (dpa, KNA)

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