Based on multi-sited archival research, this article examines the racialized regulation of commercial sex in 1970s France, and whether and how this was intertwined with the protection of a racialized, gendered, and class-based sexual order. In doing so, this article contributes to a contextualized and historicized analysis of the construction of race and colour-blindness in French legislation and law enforcement. During and after the Algerian War, colonial anxieties about sexual threats posed by North African male labour migrants in the French metropole played a role in the discussion on commercial sex and motivated politicians, policymakers and journalists to argue for its selective tolerance. The author argues that the indirect legislation on commercial sex granted discretionary power to the police to protect the sexual order through colourblind justifications. This enabled law enforcement to implement and enforce universalist legislation ‘from below’ in a racially particularistic way.