Prostitution laws go back before the courts

Federal and Ontario governments appeal ruling that struck down existing laws

The federal and Ontario governments’ appeal of an Ontario Superior Court decision last fall which struck down several key prostitution laws, began on Monday. Last year, Ontario Justice Susan Himel overturned three anti-prostitution laws that were ruled to endanger sex workers—keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution, and living on the avails of the trade. Alan Young, a York University law professor who represent sex trade workers, argues that making communication for the purposes of prostitution illegal prevents sex workers from being able to “screen” their potential clients or take necessary safety precautions. Terri-Jean Bedford, an outspoken advocate for the legalization of prostitution and a practicing dominatrix, and two other sex workers, Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch, are the three litigants who have maintained that the existing laws expose them to violence on the streets. The Crown is appealing Judge Himel’s ruling on the basis that prostitution is a degrading criminal pursuit that should not be encouraged under relaxed laws, which themselves do little to protect sex workers from violence. Young says he expects that regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the case will most likely be argued at the Supreme Court of Canada.

CBC News

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