Canada Strikes Down Anti-Prostitution Laws

They're deemed unconstitutional by Supreme Court
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2013 12:03 PM CST
Canada Strikes Down Anti-Prostitution Laws
Sex worker Terri-Jean Bedford, left, arrives at Ontario Superior Court with sex workers advocate Valerie Scott in Toronto on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

Canada's highest court has slayed a series of prostitution laws that included bans on brothels and street soliciting, declaring them unconstitutional. After a series of appeals in the lower courts, the chief justice explained the 9-0 decision, noting, "Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety, and lives of prostitutes." Sex workers had argued the laws compromised their safety and the court agreed; the laws "prevent people engaged in a risky—but legal—activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks," the ruling read, per the Globe and Mail.

While the chief justice noted "it is not a crime in Canada to sell sex for money," the ruling was "not about whether prostitution should be legal or not." Rather, it concluded that the law didn't set out a lawful way for prostitution to be handled, the CBC notes. The government will now have a year to figure out how to properly deal with prostitution, the court ruled. But even on the heels of the win, one advocate isn't very optimistic. "The thing here is politicians, though they may know us as clients, they do not understand how sex work works," she said. "They won't be able to write a half-decent law. It will fail." (Read more Canada stories.)

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