Our Statement on Gov. Kathy Hochul's Signing of the START Act
New York, November 19, 2021 – This week, four years of incessant advocacy came to fruition when Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the START Act — legislation that will allow survivors of the sex trade to more completely shed the burden of a criminal record imposed as a result of their victimization.
For far too long, sex trade survivors have been criminalized for acts their traffickers forced them into, such as drug possession, trespassing, and possession of a weapon. Stuck with criminal records that effectively bar them from employment, education, financial resources, and housing, many survivors have remained vulnerable to exploitation, unable to find safety and stability.
Now, thanks to the START Act, countless New Yorkers will be able to regain control of their lives, unrestricted by criminal records and free from exploitation.
New Yorkers for the Equality Model is proud to have supported this advocacy effort and applauds the Governor and the Act’s sponsors, Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, for their remarkable leadership. This legislative victory inspires us to continue fighting for the passage of the Sex Trade Survivors Justice & Equality Act — a bill that will further decriminalize people in prostitution, expand access to comprehensive services, strengthen anti-trafficking laws and advance criminal justice reform.
We hope you’ll join us in standing with survivors and pushing for New York to address one of the most exploitative, unequal systems that exist in our State.