Feminist Philosophers

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Excellent news: Canada’s prostitution laws struck down September 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — redeyedtreefrog @ 6:19 pm

Canada’s prostitution laws are unconstitutional because they’re contributing to the danger faced by sex-trade workers, an Ontario court ruled Tuesday in striking down key provisions of the legislation. The Ontario Superior Court ruled that laws against keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of the trade “are not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice.”

“These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Justice Susan Himel wrote her in decision.

Receiving payment for sexual services was not illegal in Canada.

Read the full story in Macleans here.

 

9 Responses to “Excellent news: Canada’s prostitution laws struck down”

  1. redeyedtreefrog Says:

    “Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford and two other sex-trade workers had
    asked Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to rule on the Criminal Code
    provisions relating to prostitution. They argued prohibitions on
    …keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of
    prostitution and living on the avails of the trade force them from the
    safety of their homes to face violence on the streets.The women
    were asking the court to declare legal restrictions on their activities a
    violation of charter rights of security of the person and freedom of
    expression. Prostitution itself is not illegal in Canada, but
    almost everything associated with it is — a situation one Supreme Court
    judge once said was “bizarre.””

  2. Michel X. Says:

    Small correction: it was Ontario’s law that was ruled unconstitutional, not Canada’s.

  3. profbigk Says:

    Ontario’s law WAS bizarre. Why maintain the non-criminality of the actual exchange of money for sex, and then criminalize every activity that might be conducive to the safety of the women doing the non-criminal activity? It’s so inconsistent, and we philosophers, we find it hard to stand inconsistency.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I believe they are provisions in Canada’s criminal code which simply cannot now be enforced in Ontario.

    Writes the Toronto Star’s legal reporter: “A Toronto judge has struck down Canada’s prostitution laws, effectively decriminalizing activities associated with the world’s oldest trade.

    “These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Justice Susan Himel of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice said in Tuesday’s landmark decision.

    The long-awaited judgment had been on reserve for nearly a year.

  5. RedEyedTreeFrog Says:

    The full text of the decision is here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/pdf/bedford-ruling.pdf

  6. Xena Says:

    YES! It is definitely Emancipation Day.

    Btw, if that wasn’t a rhetorical why, profbigk, the contradiction in the previous law is about policing and proof. It’s about practical stuff, not morality.

    If a police officer wants to catch somebody in the act of selling sex, he or she has to prove that both sex AND payment are taking place. So s/he has to catch the sex worker quoting a price for a sexual service, or get the buyer to do the same. If a police officer gets close enough to a sex act taking place in a semi-public space, it’s usually impossible to prove that the sex worker was paid for the sex. Likewise with a police officer catching a streetwalker jumping into a car with a man who hands him/her money. Prove it’s not some kind of charity.

    Enforcing Ontario’s bawdy house laws was even more difficult, requiring 3 or more complaints from neighbours and months of police surveillance. I knew a madam who made a point of moving 6 months before every municipal election. I mean, let’s face it, that’s all the stop prostitution rhetoric was ever about anyway.

  7. profbigk Says:

    I appreciate the answer, Xena. I guess it was just a rhetorical ‘why,’ but I’m still not sure I understand the logic. I do see that the policing of the communications is easier and more practical than policing actual sex acts, but it still strikes me as strange.

    Still, well said, well explained.

  8. Xena Says:

    Thanks, profbigk. That is the strangeness of living in such a huge and diverse country with a multi multi multi party political system. Trying to “please all of the people all of the time” turns into Why do Canadians cross the road? To get to the middle.

    Lots of things are legal, but not legal here. Our politics in some regions have the weirdest Newton’s Cradle type cycles between NDP permissiveness and Reformer backlash. Sometimes it’s enough to make me dizzy when a new government rearranges all of the social policy here in Ontario. But the upside of that is that something new always comes along. You get used to the constant change and contradictions when you’ve been in enough bread lines.

    I just hope the appeal process gets killed quickly. I contacted Mr. Paterson, on An Anthology of English Pros, and he confirmed that Harper and the boys will DEFINITELY be appealing. It looks like Ignatieff’s Liberals have been more serious about de-throning our current government over the last few months anyway. IF that happens, and IF and if and if… the new laws may stick, Liberals at the helm, new Royal Commision whoosywhatsis to prove that the changes haven’t caused family values to disintegrate, etc.

    Otherwise, the more likely outcome is that this business will be tied up in the court system for 2 or 3 years. But if they lose their appeal, they have to change the laws in every province, just like gay marriages. And that will be excellent news. They won’t be able to posture over invoking section 33 of the Charter if that happens.

  9. [...] indoors, and/or keep a “badwdy” house (which is an awesome word). Some people are pleased. Some are [...]


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