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Prostitution in Austria is legal and regulated. Most sex workers are migrants , mainly from the former Eastern Bloc countries. Over the Middle Ages there existed an uneasy association between those selling sex usually women on the one side, and church and state on the other. While the practice was frowned on, it thrived, and was tolerated. After all they paid their taxes two pfennigs a week. On the other hand, on Sundays and during Lent, they were obliged to stay away from the towns.
Some councilors wanted to set up a charitable foundation for prostitutes who renounced their sinful life. However very soon councilors were actually establishing brothels and even supported a nunnery from the taxes. However, since this did little to reduce prostitution, Austrian laws changed to consider prostitution as a necessary evil that had to be tolerated but regulated by the state. Nusser of the Vienna police suggested that prostitutes be required to register with the police, receive medical examinations twice a week, and obtain special health certificates.
In , Anton Ritter von Le Monnier, head of the Vienna police, reformed Vienna's prostitution law, and health certificates have been obligatory since that time. Prostitutes who complied with the requirements of registration and examinations were no longer prosecuted by the police. A newspaper article of October 27, reported that 6, prostitutes had received health certificates and were under observation by police and health authorities. According to police estimates, at least 12, more women lived on the proceeds of "free love" without being registered.
Most of these were factory workers who received so little pay that they needed the additional income. Of the registered prostitutes, 5, were unmarried, widows, and married. The youngest was 15 and the oldest 47 years old. Homosexual male prostitution was legalized in Although sex work itself is not forbidden, Section b. Prostitutes are considered to be self-employed, and since they have been required to pay taxes.
Austrian cities do not have red-light districts like the Bahnhofsviertel Frankfurt am Main , the Reeperbahn in Hamburg , or the De Wallen in Amsterdam ; the sex industry is widely distributed over the cities and its presence often goes unnoticed. In April , 1, female and 21 male prostitutes were officially registered in Vienna.