Press release: "This is a highly political proceeding."

Press release:

Press release


"This is a highly political proceeding."

Sex worker and anti-discrimination trainer Ruby Rebelde has emerged victorious in a legal case against the German anti-sex-work organization.

On February 8th, 2024, the Kammergericht Berlin (the highest regional court of the city-state of Berlin) convened for the appeal of sex worker and anti-discrimination trainer Ruby Rebelde. In 2023, Rebelde received a legal warning regarding certain statements made by the organization "Sisters," a group advocating for the introduction of the "end of demand" or so-called Nordic model in Germany. The same organization also sought an injunction against Rebelde, who serves as a board member of the Berlin-based advice centre for sex workers "Hydra." Initially, Sisters achieved success, but Ruby Rebelde fought back.

The legal dispute originated in May 2023 with a lecture by Rebelde following an invitation from a German network promoting respect and safety for sex workers. On May 12th, 2023, Rebelde participated as the sole sex worker speaker in an expert meeting discussing the issue of "6 years of the Prostitutes Protection Act in Germany" (in German: Prostituiertenschutzgesetz). The initiative involved the German Women Lawyers' Association, the Diakonie Germany (a Protestant welfare organization of the German Protestant Church), and the German Women's Council.

The expert audience also included individuals advocating for the Nordic Model in Germany and belonging to a German network called the "Alliance for Nordic Model." Ruby Rebelde's presentation outraged them to the extent that they sought to legally warn the sex worker, and later, the organization "Sisters" sued her to ban Rebelde from making certain statements about the Sisters organization and for defamation. They initially succeeded in July 2023.

"I'm being silenced because the organization doesn't want to address my criticism. Competent and outspoken sex workers with their own demands don't conform to their portrayal of 'prostitutes.' That's why they discredit dissenting sex workers as part of 'prostitution' or 'pimp lobbies,'" says Rebelde. "The proceedings concern the right of sex workers to participate in the discourse about themselves and their work. It pertains to the freedom of speech of a minority under massive attack and denigration by organizations such as Sisters. This is a highly political proceeding."

On February 9th, 2024, the court delivered its ruling. The judge revised the previous judgment of the Berlin Regional Court from July 2023 and dismissed the injunction restraining Ruby Rebelde from making certain statements about the organization "Sisters."

"Sex workers must have a voice in the discourse about themselves and their work. What we have to say may be uncomfortable for some. This is due to insufficient awareness of the historical and ongoing persecution and discrimination against 'prostitutes,' which has been largely overlooked. However, silencing us is the wrong approach," says Ruby Rebelde following the court hearing. "It is important to confront our own history. The verdict is a positive signal and a small victory."

Cases like Ruby Rebelde's against the organization "Sisters" are internationally known as SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation) and have recently gained traction in Germany as well. This underscores the need to create a platform for sex workers and recognize their work as human rights defenders to address the repeated attacks on their community and to discuss issues, strategies and perspectives. This is also in light of the fact that the media under-reports such attacks, as the public tends to sweep ongoing attacks on sex worker rights defenders and violence against sex workers under the carpet.

Sisters appealed the court's February 8 decision on the grounds that the judge was biased. Their appeal was dismissed on 28 February. This is the final decision. Now, they can only appeal to the Constitutional Court, not against Rebelde, but against a higher court.


More information about the case can be found on the Ruby Rebelde website:

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