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Australian motel discriminated by barring prostitute, court finds

August 8, 2012 |  4:19 pm

A Queensland motel illegally discriminated against a prostitute by barring her from staying there, an Australian tribunal ruled this week, in a decision cheered by sex workers and their advocates.

“Not everyone would choose to do the job I do, but it's not right that they can treat me like a second-class citizen,” the sex worker told The Australian newspaper. "They wanted me to go away, but I am a tenacious little terrier and I would not give up."

The woman, identified as “GK” by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, had repeatedly stayed at the hotel before the owners discovered she was bringing clients to her room and banned her, according to Australian media. She is now seeking damages. An attorney for the owners of the Drovers Rest Motel in Moranbah told the Australian Associated Press that they were weighing an appeal.

Prostitution is legal in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland for sex workers who work alone or in a licensed brothel. The Scarlet Alliance, a national association for sex workers, argued that prostitutes working from rented rooms were entitled to the same rights as businessmen and women using their laptops to do work in their hotels. Worries about noise were a red herring, it said.

If a sex worker was doing business in the adjacent room, “you wouldn’t even know they were there!” the group said on Twitter. “Sex workers make great neighbors, we ALREADY work from hotels all over Australia!”

The Accommodation Assn. of Australia, an industry group, said owners should have the responsibility for deciding who can stay in their motels “to preserve the amenity of the establishment for the benefit of all guests.” In a statement this week, the group said it might reach out to the Queensland or federal government to go over the problems the judgment might raise.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

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