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Monday 08 November 2010

Proclamations of the Red Queen

30th September 2010

Canada: Prostitution Law Reform in Ontario?

Posted by: Craig Young

Canada’s Conservative Harper administration will appeal against a ground-breaking provincial court ruling that decriminalises pimping, soliciting and brothels.

Conservative Parliamentarians vowed to defend the laws found unconstitutional, saying prostitution “harms” women in the sex industry. One wonders if they’ve ever read accounts from sex workers themselves, who have always maintained that it is criminalisation that creates stigmatisation, social exclusion and unsafe working conditions.

Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice ruled in favour of three sex workers who argued that anti-sexwork laws  forced them to risk their safety on the streets. Unfortunately, the existing legislation will remain in force during a thirty day delayed effect period following the decision.

“Anyone that believes that women involved in the sex trade are not victims is very mistaken,” Bob Dechert, parliamentary secretary for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, told CBC news.

“There’s a lot of victims in that industry and we need to protect them.” (One wonders how that can happen during periods of criminalisation, when condoms are admissible evidence of “wrongdoing” and when it is known to deter requisite occupational health and safety provisions common in Australasia).

In a 131-page ruling, Judge Susan Himel found that national anti-sexwork laws, which  banned brothels, street soliciting of clients and management of sex workers violated a provision of the Canadian Constitution which guarantees “the right to life, liberty and security”.

Judge Himel stated that the Canadian Parliament should regulate sex work, rather than ban such practices: “These laws… force prostitutes to choose between their liberty, interest and their right to security of the person,” she said.

The three women described the ruling as providing greater protection for sex workers. One referred to it as  ”emancipation day“.

Sadly, the ruling is limited to only the province of Ontario at present, but if the government loses the appeal, it could lead to changes in the law nationwide. Let us hope justice and inclusion prevail and sex workers rights are upheld at the level of the Canadian Supreme Court. I’ve never understood why a humane and liberal society like Canada maintains such evil legislation that threatens the lives and health of female, male and transgender sex workers

Postscript: British Columbian sex workers have been given the go-ahead for a case against anti-sexworker laws in the BC Court of Appeal as well.  Meawhile, Conservative MP Joy Smith is working on a private members bill to recriminalise sex work, despite denials that she’s on a moral crusade against sex workers. The Bloc Quebecois party has said that it won’t support any such bill in the House of Commons. Smith has misrepresented New Zealand’s Prostitution Law Review 2008, which found that the Prostitution Law Reform Act 2003 was working. The New Democrats and Liberals are similarly critical, as is University of Ottawa criminologist Christine Bruckert. Smith favours a prohibitionist Swedish anti-sexworker measure.


“Canada to appeal against ruling against brothel ban” BBC News: 29.09.2010:

Dale Smith: “Conservative MP and Critics squabble over prostitution” Xtra Canada: 08.10.2010:

The Ruling:

Tags: Politics

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 ford expert // Oct 7, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.

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