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Welcome to the SWAN News!

Introduction and greetings from Mr. Balázs Dénes, the Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the organization that launched and technically coordinates the Sex Workers' Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) and issues the SWAN News.

Dear Members of the SWAN, newsletter subscribers, friends and colleagues,

It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you in the first issue of the SWAN News – the voice of the Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network of the HCLU.

The SWAN News will be issued monthly, in electronic format, and will bring to you short news items on the new projects and activities of the SWAN members, as well as on the most important developments worldwide that are connected with the issue of human rights of sex workers. This first issue of the News is entirely devoted to the introduction of the SWAN Members.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union was established in Budapest, Hungary in 1994. The Founding Fathers –who actually were more Founding Mothers – aimed to start not a monitoring and reporting NGO, but an advocacy-watchdog type organization. They looked to the American Civil Liberties Union as an example to follow. Our past 12 years is the existing evidence that the law can be a very important tool in advocacy issues. Our focus areas are the followings: drug policy, HIV/AIDS, patient’s rights, political freedoms, such as free speech, opinion, assembly and union, NGOs in the legislative process, protection of privacy and freedom of information. We are very much interested in questions related to individuals’ privacy and actions against unreasonable state interventions.

Regarding our ways of operation, HCLU considers itself as a legal reform organization. We are continuously taking attention to the new laws and draft bills, and sending our opinion to the policy makers and the media about them. Through our Legal Aid Service, we are helping individuals and harm reduction service providers, and other professionals who work with drug users and other vulnerable groups. Often we do start strategic impact litigation lawsuits against local and national governments, ministries and police departments. Through our public education program we are raising public’s awareness around the issues we are working on.

The reason why we started SWAN is simple: we do think that criminalization and marginalization of commercial sex workers offers no solution to the SW-related problems of different societies and often causes more harm than good. In democratic societies, where SW-related questions and state answers are based on the respect of Human Rights and on a real public health approach, sex workers can find partners in the governments agencies. In our newly independent countries unfortunately this is not always the case. However, we do believe in the potential power of the media, and well-organized advocacy campaigns. Therefore we launched SWAN, and thanks to the support of the Open Society Instute’s Sexual Health and Rights Program, we are here now, and ready to help and work with all our network partners. We understand the differences in the legal systems and in the societies of the SWAN members, but we do think it is possible to work together.

The newsletter will be open for contributions from SWAN members and non-members alike. Please feel free to send us information that might be relevant for our subscribers.

Thank you for sharing interest in our cause and for all your support!

Balázs Dénes,
Executive Director
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

SWAN Contacts:
Projects: Eszter Csernus, sexwork@tasz.hu
SWAN News Subscription: Aliya Rakhmetova, swan-subscription@tasz.hu
SWAN News Contributions: Nebojsa Radic, sexwork@tasz.hu
Website: www.tasz.hu (SWAN website to be launched soon)