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Should Canada's prostitution laws be changed?

Categories: Canada, Community, Politics

A group representing women and transgender women working in Vancouver's sex trade has won the right to continue its challenge of Canada's prostitution laws after a Supreme Court ruling Friday.

Former sex-trade worker Sheryl Kiselbach, left, and lawyer Katrina Percy speak to the media in May 2009. Kiselbach and a group from Vancouver are trying to mount a constitutional challenge to prostitution laws.Former sex-trade worker Sheryl Kiselbach, left, and lawyer Katrina Percy speak to the media in May 2009. Kiselbach and a group from Vancouver are trying to mount a constitutional challenge to prostitution laws. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)The Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society has been arguing since 2007 that three prostitution-related laws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

While prostitution itself is technically legal, there are provisions against nearly every activity associated with it. Advocates for the safety of sex workers say the provisions make the work more dangerous in specific ways. For example:

  • Laws against keeping a common bawdy house prevent sex workers from working indoors, where it's safer.

  • Laws against living on the avails of prostitution prevent them from hiring bodyguards. 

  • Laws against communicating for the purposes of prostitution prevent them from taking time to talk to a potential client to assess the risk he or she poses.

The Ontario Superior Court struck down the first laws surrounding the first two provisions in 2010. the judges were split over the communication issue, so it is still considered an offence.

The workers also argue that the provisions restrict their freedom of expression and prevent them from obtaining the protections and benefits that other workers get under labour and employment laws.

Defenders of the laws say they exist to protect sex workers and discourage people from entering the sex trade.

Should Canada's prostitution laws be changed? Should they legalize activities surrounding the sex trade? Or make prostitution itself illegal? Let us know what you think.



(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: Canada, Community, law, Politics, POV

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