Dutch sex workers decry coronavirus curbs, demand to get back to work

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Several dozen sex workers protested in front of the Dutch parliament on Tuesday against a government decision to ease coronavirus restrictions for some professions but not sex work, normally legal in the Netherlands.

The protesters carried red umbrellas and signs reading "Blow jobs are real jobs" and "Sex work: Yes. Stigma: No".

"I'm protesting because sex workers are being discriminated against. You can go to the hairdresser or you can go to a massage therapist but you can't go and see a sex worker," said sex worker and candidate in the March parliamentary election Yvette Luhrs.

Last week Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced so-called contact professions such as hairdressers and massage therapists could reopen as of Wednesday. He specifically excluded sex work, saying it was impossible to be safe if people were in a job were its in its nature to be very close together. Protesters in The Hague disagreed.

"I'm an S&M mistress. It's no problem at all to keep the 1.5 meter distance. I can lock them up in a cage, stay far away from them, (I can) even implement COVID rules, we can play doctor, I can put them on a dog leash. Everything is possible, I have a very long whip. So no risk at all," said one Rotterdam sex worker who identified herself as Princess Patricia.

Dutch coronavirus infection figures have been slowly on the rise in recent weeks. The health authorities said on Tuesday that the week on week infection numbers rose 7 percent to 31,984 people.

(Reporting by Piroschka van de Wouw and Stephanie van den Berg; editing by Grant McCool)

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