Hey MasterCard, if #AcceptanceMatters then stop putting sex workers and online human rights in danger

Posted October 8, 2021, 6:42 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 8, 2021

On October 15th, MasterCard is expected to implement new policies surrounding “adult content,” which experts say will fail to do anything to make children or victims of actual trafficking safer, and instead will simply exacerbate the harm of disastrous laws like SESTA/FOSTA, which have put consensual sex workers, sex educators, and adult content creators in danger. 

A group of more than 200 sex workers and LGBTQ+ advocates have organized AcceptanceMatters.org, calling on financial services companies including MasterCard to end discrimination against sex workers and LGBTQ+ content creators. Already more than 2,500 impacted people and stakeholders have signed on to the effort.

“We demand you pause your planned adult content policies set to apply starting October 15th. We ask you to consider the community you speak to in your #AcceptanceMatters campaigns before moving forward. We ask you to commit to making sure payments are actually accepted at our businesses instead of offering superficial support. The LGBTQ + QTPOC community has a unique stake in sex work, which is both overlooked in your materials about LGBTQ+ businesses and directly discriminated against through your actions defunding and restricting adult industry workers,” write the signers at AcceptanceMatters.org, “Banks make statements about care for harm and communities, but their actions really revolve around decreasing their civil, criminal, and public relations liability. They do this by debanking large swathes of businesses and workers. But when the entire banking industry discriminates, this leaves debanked workers without access to everything banking is required for: housing, credit, insurance, education, and numerous other necessities.”

Digital rights group Fight for the Future issued the following statement, which can be attributed to director, Evan Greer (she/her): “MasterCard can’t declare that ‘acceptance matters’ while actively discriminating against and endangering sex workers and vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community. We need community-driven solutions to address exploitation and harm, not more surveillance, financial deplatforming, or online censorship of vaguely defined sexual content, which can include artwork, health and educational materials, and more. MasterCard should abandon this plan, and everyone should fight for decentralized alternatives so that payment processing does not continue to be a convenient chokepoint for censorship and human rights abuses. Instead of allowing private corporations to further restrict basic rights and safety for sex workers, we should push Congress to pass the Safe Sex Worker Study Act, to examine the harm done by SESTA/FOSTA and recommend policies that will increase safety for all.”

Ashley Lake, of the Sex Workers Organizing Project: Behind Bars, has a lengthy Twitter thread detailing the danger of MasterCard’s plan here. She is available for comment at <ashley@swopbehindbars.org>