Activism

VICTORY! Canadian High Court Strikes Down All Anti-Prostitution Laws

The ruling is a major win for sex workers who have fought endlessly for safer work conditions for more than a decade.

In a landmark decision, Canada’s highest court has struck down all of the nation’s anti-prostitution laws as unconstitutional in a unanimous judgment, Toronto Starreported.

The Supreme Court found that all three laws violated the Canadian Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically it infringed on the guarantee to life and liberty by depriving sex workers of their security of person.

The court held that the laws against keeping a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution and street soliciting imposed “dangerous conditions on prostitution" and "prevent people engaged in a risky, but legal activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks."

The decision upheld Ontario's Court of Appeal's previous decision which had struck down the ban on brothels on the grounds it posed a real and grave danger to sex workers.

The ruling is a major win for sex industry advocates who have fought a long battle for safer working conditions.  As the judgment was handed down, sex workers rejoiced loudly and broke out into cheers heard throughout the court building.  

Toronto-based dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford who brought the appeal said the political battle will now begin.

“Wow. Yes! Great day for Canada and Canadian women from coast to coast. Now the government must tell Canadians, all consenting adults, what we can and cannot do in the privacy of our own home, for money or not, and they must write laws that are fair . . . Victory,” she said.

The historical ruling, which poignantly arrives on the heels of last week’s celebration of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, gives Parliament a one-year reprieve to redraft new legislation with the hope of reshaping government policy on the world's oldest profession.

The triumph comes 34 years after the Supreme Court last upheld Canada’s anti-prostitution laws, Huff Post reported.

 

 

 

Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.

 

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