Canada’s Supreme Court strikes down prostitution laws

A rally to support sex worker rights at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa last year. Photo: Jenn Farr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

A rally to support sex worker rights at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa last year. Photo: Jenn Farr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

In a landmark decision this morning, Canada’s highest court unanimously struck down many existing laws that criminalized prostitution. As reported by the CBC:

In striking down laws prohibiting brothels, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating in public with clients, the top court ruled Friday that the laws were over-broad and grossly disproportionate.

The ruling was in response to a court challenge by women with experience in the sex trade  Terri Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott.

The top court agreed with an Ontario court ruling that overturned the laws.

A .pdf of the high court’s ruling can be seen here.

According to the Canadian Press:

The court struck down all three prostitution-related prohibitions — against keeping a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution and street soliciting — as violations of the constitutional guarantee to life, liberty and security of the person.

The ruling comes more than two decades after the court last upheld the anti-prostitution laws. It represents a historic victory for sex workers — mainly women — who were seeking safer working conditions.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing on behalf of the court, said Canada’s social landscape has changed since 1990.

“These appeals and the cross-appeal are not about whether prostitution should be legal or not,” she wrote. “They are about whether the laws Parliament has enacted on how prostitution may be carried out pass constitutional muster.

“I conclude that they do not.”

The CP report says existing laws concerning prostitution will remain in effect for one year (until Dec. 19, 2014) during which time Parliament may write new legislation in regards to prostitution that would better meet the court’s objections.

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4 Comments on “Canada’s Supreme Court strikes down prostitution laws”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    I wonder if Governor Cuomo would consider tax free status those wishing to start up a brothel.
    We shouldn’t let Canada get ahead of us in this tried and true business plan.

  2. Michael Greer says:

    If it fit the criteria of being near a university and creating jobs, why not?

  3. Paul says:

    It sounds like the unconstitutional law stands for one year. Interesting.

  4. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    If only such sanity existed on this side of the border. With regard to all manner of currently criminalized activities that occur by or between consenting adults. We could learn so much from Canada on a whole host of issues if we weren’t so easily swayed by the constant fear mongering about perceived crime.

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