Controversial prostitution law rewrite passes in Senate
Sex workers, supporters vow to keep up the fight for their rights
The Conservative government's controversial anti-prostitution bill passed third reading in the Senate on Tuesday and requires only royal assent to become law.
- 'Confused' prostitution bill can't be fixed, lawyer Alan Young says
- Peter MacKay's justice roundtables didn't set a place for sex workers
- Sex workers speak out as Senate hearings wrap up
- Terri-Jean Bedford kicked out of prostitution bill hearing
- Peter MacKay insists new prostitution bill will protect sex workers
The government had wanted to get the bill through the legislative process by the middle of this month, so it could become law by December.
That would meet the deadline imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada when it struck down existing laws as unconstitutional last year.
The court found the laws violated the charter rights of sex workers because they were criminally prohibited from taking measures to keep themselves safe.
The Sex Professionals of Canada says the new set of laws won't improve things and will ensure violence against sex workers continues in Canada.
'This isn't over'
In a statement on its website, the group says keeping criminalization in place will continue the stigma and social exclusion of sex workers.
The group also said it plans to continue to fight for rights for sex workers, saying "this isn't over!"
The government has argued the legislation protects sex workers by giving them access to bodyguards and the ability to work indoors.
However, none of that can happen if a third party benefits or the sex worker is operating in exploitative conditions.
Scores of witnesses told both MPs and senators during hearings on the bill that the various exemptions in the bill are open to further charter challenges.
For example, while it would allow sex workers to advertise, it would make it an offence for anyone to run those ads, said Ian Clark, an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association's national criminal justice section.