Court strikes anti-prostitution pledge

May 10, 2006 at 3:09 PM

WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. government cannot require AIDS grant recipients to pledge to oppose commercial sex work, a judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York ruled that requiring U.S. organizations in other countries to sign such a pledge in order to be considered for federal funding was a violation of the groups' First Amendment rights, Long Island Newsday reported.

The policy, which was implemented in June 2005, has its origin in a 2003 amendment that prohibits funds from going to a group without an explicit anti-prostitution and sex trafficking policy.

The Open Society Institute, the Alliance for Open Society International and Pathfinder International filed the lawsuit against USAID last year, arguing the policy interfered with efforts to provide sex workers with critical information and services.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Rosberger, argued on behalf of the government, that the policy was not intended to interfere with public health efforts.

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