On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom received a bill to sign that was passed through both chambers of the state legislature, which bans law enforcement from arresting prostitutes on loitering charges.
SB-357 allows individuals that have been convicted on loitering charges to ask the courts for dismissal and a seal of the record of conviction.
The bill was introduced by Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener who claims that police officers disproportionately target black, transgender, and latino female prostitutes, the New York Post reports.
Critics of the bill believe that this is the first step towards decriminalizing prostitution statewide and fear that the bill's passing will bring along heightened criminal activity.
"This bill seems to be perfect if you want sex trafficking to even increase in California," Greg Burt said, a spokesman for the California Family Council.
"This bill is really going to affect poor neighborhoods — it's not going to affect neighborhoods where these legislators live," he added.
Although the bill was passed in Sept. 2021, Sen. Weiner, who is gay, said that he wanted to wait to give Gov. Newsom the bill in honor of Pride Month, as the bill is sponsored by groups supporting gay and transgender rights, the outlet reports.
"It is more important than ever to get rid of a law that targets our community," Wiener said. "Pride isn't just about rainbow flags and parades. It's about protecting the most marginalized in our community."
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department warned in a statement that repealing the law would hinder the prosecution of criminals committing crimes related to prostitution and human trafficking. The bill would make it harder to identify and assist those being victimized, according to the department.
The law is "often used to keep prostitutes from hanging around public places, business and residential communities, which can breed crime and drug use," the sheriff's department said.
However, Weiner provided unfounded claims that the loitering law "essentially allows law enforcement to target and arrest people if they are wearing tight clothes or a lot of makeup."