San Francisco Chronicle

State repeal of loitering law inches ahead

- By Dustin Gardiner Dustin Gardiner is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: dustin.gardiner@ sfchronicl­e.com Twitter: @dustingard­iner

SACRAMENTO — California is a step closer to repealing an anti-loitering law that, LGBTQ advocates say, allows law enforcemen­t to target transgende­r women and women of color simply because of innocuous factors like how they dress or where they stand on the street.

State legislator­s gave final approval Friday to SB357, by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, which would repeal a 1995 law that prohibits loitering in public places with the “intent to commit prostituti­on.” However, the Senate won’t send the bill to the governor until early next year, so the final word on its fate will be delayed.

Wiener said the current loitering law is written so vaguely that it has led to police officers and prosecutor­s profiling trans, Black and Latino women. Opponents have dubbed such laws “walking while trans” bans because of complaints of discrimina­tion.

“When law enforcemen­t arrests people who ‘look like’ they might be sex workers, simply because of how they look or dress, it makes it harder to find and help those who are being trafficked,” Wiener said in a statement. “Giving people criminal records for just standing around is wrong, and we need to reverse this law.”

Wiener’s bill would not decriminal­ize sex work or repeal other laws that prohibit soliciting prostituti­on. He said the bill will also ensure sex workers are treated with dignity because arresting them “doesn’t make them safer, doesn’t make our communitie­s safer, and doesn’t prevent sex work.”

SB357 passed the Legislatur­e after a series of intense debates. Republican legislator­s said the measure, which was opposed by the Peace Officers Research Associatio­n of California, would make it harder for police to combat sex traffickin­g and identify victims of traffickin­g.

“Senate Republican­s stand with human traffickin­g victims, their families and law enforcemen­t and opposed SB 357,” Senate Republican leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita (Los Angeles County), said in a statement.

But the bill, which ordinarily would be send to the governor’s desk in short order, hit an unexpected delay late Friday night.

About an hour after the bill received its final vote, Wiener asked the Senate to hold the measure and not send it to the governor until January. That means, Gov.

Gavin Newsom, assuming he remains in office after Tuesday’s recall election, can’t sign or veto the bill until next year.

Wiener’s office said the delay “provides the senator and our coalition more time to make the case about why this civil rights bill is good policy that should be signed into law.”

 ?? Sandy Huffaker / Special to The Chronicle ?? TS Jane, a San Diego sex worker, supports repeal of the anti-loitering law. Trans activists say the law allows biased enforcemen­t.
Sandy Huffaker / Special to The Chronicle TS Jane, a San Diego sex worker, supports repeal of the anti-loitering law. Trans activists say the law allows biased enforcemen­t.

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