Catherine Healy, National Coordinator of the NZ Prostitutes Collective returns home from Oxford University today to great acclaim. She was on the winning team of a debate on the decriminalisation of prostitution at the Oxford Union, the same debating chamber as David Lange's famous anti-nuclear speech in the eighties.
Healy was invited to participate in the debate, "This House Would Decriminalise Prostitution", because of New Zealand's successful introduction of The Prostitution Reform Act, 2003, in which she had played a key role, advocating for sex workers rights. The bill was passed through a private members bill supported by Tim Barnett, MP in the previous Labour coalition government.
Whilst the debating chamber was intimidating, Healy managed to spring her own reference to the famous David Lange joke to the opposing speaker; "I can smell the viagra on your breath as we speak!" Their team won by 37 votes.
The debate in Oxford was held on 23 February and was attended by sex workers, academics, students and politicians currently involved in reviewing the prostitution laws in the United Kingdom.
Healy acknowledges that was a great honour to be invited and stand in the same chamber as David Lange and many other esteemed writers, politicians and leaders from Malcolm X to Martin Luther King and Barack Obama.
New Zealand once again showed that a small country can lead the way for human rights for all.
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