BRISBANE, Australia — Two Latter-day Saints who are leaders in the pro-family movement in Australia were instrumental in stopping the legalization of escort prostitution services in Queensland.
The Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission announced in October that it would recommend to the state government that the legal prostitution industry not be expanded from licensed brothels to escort or outcall prostitution services.
Instead, it recommended tightening the law to crack down against illegal brothels and escort agencies, which are estimated to comprise 75 percent of the total prostitution industry in Queensland.
Alan Baker of the Brisbane Australia Stake is president of the Family Council of Queensland, and Mark Holzworth of the Logan Australia Stake is state vice-president of the Australian Family Association.
Brother Baker and Brother Holzworth appeared in public hearings the CMC conducted last year to put the case against further legalization of prostitution, arguing that it would lead to an expansion of the overall industry and put prostitutes at greater risk of violence.
Their organizations, along with the feminist group Coalition Against Trafficking of Women Australia, were the only voices against legalization, with the Queensland Police, the Queensland Health Department, the government's Prostitution Licensing Authority, the licensed brothel owners and the sex workers' association all in favor.
Brother Baker said their experience at the public hearings reminded them of the lyrics of the hymn, "Let Us All Press On" (Hymns 243), particularly the lines "an unseen power will aid me and you in the glorious cause of truth" and "we will heed not what the wicked may say."
The CMC inquiry was told by Brother Baker: "If you legalize something, quite clearly you will get more of it — not less. This is because legalizing something sends a message to the community that it is acceptable behavior. The law is an educator and many people mistakenly believe that whatever is legal is also moral.
"Prostitution results in an increase in sexual activity outside marriage, leading to more family breakdown, and it debases all those involved in it.
"As prostitution is harmful to society, it should be contained, controlled and, if possible, reduced."
Brother Holzworth told the CMC that the brothel owners' claim that their business viability was under threat if they were not permitted to offer outcall escort services was not credible. He said the growth in the number of legal brothels from zero in 1999 to 22 in late 2005 did not support this view.
"Clearly, any industry that can grow at this rate over five or six years is not struggling. Brothel owners have no basis to claim the existing business model is in any way suffering."
Brother Holzworth told Church News that the CMC's recommendations were a step in the right direction, but the pro-family movement was lobbying the Queensland Government to repeal the 1999 law allowing legal brothels, as this had institutionalized and normalized the practice of prostitution.
"The government needs to do more in helping women exit the industry by providing safe houses, detoxification programs, psychological counseling and job retraining," he said.