TORONTO – The Supreme Court of Canada is to announce today if it will hear appeals affecting the country’s main prostitution-control laws.
In a ruling earlier this year, Ontario’s top court struck down the ban on bawdy houses on the basis that it increased the dangers prostitutes face because they are forced to work outside.
Prostitution itself is not illegal in Canada, though many of the key activities were banned under the three laws considered by the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
The justices also reworded the law against living on the avails of prostitution to clarify it would only apply in cases of exploitation because it could otherwise apply to people such as a prostitute’s bodyguards, accountant or receptionist.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Ottawa appealed in an effort to get the Supreme Court to create legal certainty by providing a binding, national ruling on prostitution.
The Ontario court rejected Ottawa’s contention that prostitutes knowingly choose an inherently dangerous occupation, but suspended its ruling on brothels for 12 months to give Parliament an opportunity to draft a new law.
Toronto lawyer Alan Young, who represented the sex-trade workers, is also seeking to appeal the Appeal Court ruling which upheld the ban on street prostitution.
“If we’re going to be dragged to review those rulings, we might as well then appeal the ruling on communication because we always felt that law had many constitutional flaws,” Young said earlier this year.