Hawaii lawmakers have passed a bill that will end an unusual exemption in state law that allowed police to have sex with prostitutes.
Police still may solicit sex in the course of their investigations, but the measure (HB 1926) now makes sexual penetration and sadomasochistic abuse by police officers a crime.
Members of the House and the Senate passed the bill unanimously Tuesday.
Earlier in the session Honolulu police lobbied successfully to keep the exemption. The House amended the bill after police testimony, keeping the exemption.
Media coverage called attention to the change. A Senate committee responded with another amendment that removed the exemption.
Honolulu police dropped their opposition to the change. The police insist their officers do not have sex with prostitutes and would be disciplined if they did. Police say their opposition was geared toward keeping secret the methods of undercover officers.
"The police I believe in retrospect wanted to be sure that they understood that this conduct is unbecoming and should not be allowed," said Sen. Clayton Hee during bill discussions.
Catherine Xian, Executive Director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, says the organization has been trying to get the law changed for years and its very happy its finally going down that path.
"I think the global publicity that Hawaii has gotten regards to this archaic and abusive law allowing police to sleep with prostitutes has really embarrassed the state," said Xian.
The bill now goes to the governor's desk for approval.