Unanimous Supreme Court ruling strikes down prostitution laws

| December 20, 2013
Photo: Mikasi/flickr

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously to strike down three provisions in Canada's prostitution laws. The ruling says that Parliament has one year to develop new legislation. 

According to the ruling "each of the challenged provisions, considered independently, suffers from constitutional infirmities that violate the Charter."

Three sex workers -- Terry Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch, and Valerie Scott -- argued their right to security and safety has been violated by Canada’s prostitution laws, preventing them from working in the safety of their own homes or a bawdy house, and preventing them from hiring drivers. The prohibition on communicating with potential clients prevents them from assessing safety risks.

The three challenged provisions :

1. Communicating For The Purposes of Prostitution in a public place (section 213)

Repealing section 213, "communicating for the purposes of prostitution in a public place" allows sex workers to openly negotiate services. Removing this law means potentially allowing sex workers to no longer work in areas that are isolated and under-protected.

2. Living off the avails of prostitution (section 212)

Repealing section 212, "living off the avails of prostitution" allows sex workers to make decisions about who they want to work with and potentially remove the exploitation of sex workers by bosses.

3. Keeping a common bawdy house (section 210)

Repealing section 210, "keeping a common bawdy house" would allow workers to create their own collective workplaces run by and for other sex workers, which are potentially safer for sex workers. 

Photo: Mikasi/flickr