The leftist party
that has already legalized gay unions and abortion in
Mexico City said it wants to make prostitution legal in the
capital of this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country.
legislator Juan Bustos of the leftist Democratic Revolution
Party, who submitted the bill on Tuesday, said the move is
necessary to protect prostitutes from abuse and to
regulate the sex industry.
frequently use the current law not to arrest sex workers
but as a threat to shake them down for bribes or sexual
issues that we are going to bring forward as part of a
political platform, because we feel it is part of our duty
to society,'' Bustos said Wednesday.
expects opposition. Spokesmen for the Roman Catholic Church,
which led marches against the abortion bill approved in
April, were not immediately available for comment.
Felipe Calderon's conservative National Action Party said
it had problems with aspects of the bill and that the goal
should be to get women out of prostitution.
''We have to
discourage this [prostitution] so that more women will not
even think about becoming sex workers,'' said Mariana Gomez
del Campo, head of National Action in Mexico City.
''We have to try to recover values.''
In most Mexican
cities prostitution is considered the equivalent of a
misdemeanor. In Mexico City it is punishable by 12 to 24
hours in jail and fines equal to about US$51 (euro38)
to US$93 (euro70).
Some cities have
informal red-light zones where prostitution is
tolerated, such as the border city of Nuevo Laredo. But none
appear to have gone as far as the Mexico City
proposal, said Carolina Velazquez of Mexico's Women's
The bill would
legalize prostitution in designated areas at least 300
meters (985 feet) from schools, parks, churches and
apartment complexes, though pimping would remain a
crime. It also would require prostitutes to adhere to
health safety standards and zoning restrictions, or face
punishments similar to those under the current law.
The new law would
guarantee prostitutes' rights and make them eligible
for government services.
''The first thing
is trying to preserve the dignity of sex workers,''
Bustos said. (Mark Stevenson, AP)