Ontario Court of Appeal Judgment - Partial Victory: Judgment Abandons Street Sex WorkersTuesday, November 30 1999
March 26th, 2012. It is with a mix of joy and disappointment that we have learned of the decision by the five Ontario Court of Appeal judges that recognize the unconstitutionality of the articles criminalizing bawdy houses and living on the avails of prostitution, except in cases of exploitation (see http://pivotlegal.org/pivot-points/blog/ontario-sex-work-judgement-in-489-words). It is a victory in and of itself to be able to work legally indoors, alone or in groups and to have the right to have people around to increase security, such as receptionists, drivers, managers, agency owners, etc.
Most disappointing is that three out of five judges agree to maintain the Criminal Code sanctions around communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution which to us is incomprehensible, because as a result of these laws, people working on the street are subject to the most repression and human rights abuses. To this end, in their dissenting opinion, two judges recognize the unconstitutionality of the communicating law stipulating that it is not working on the street in and of itself that is dangerous but rather the communicating law that contributes to the violence to which sex workers are exposed. Two reports issued by the Department of Justice (1989, 1994) that evaluated the impact of the communicating law concluded that the criminalization of street sex workers and their clients contributes to violence against sex workers.
Prime Minister Harper maintains that Canadian laws are not responsible for violence against sex workers and that it is not the government's responsibility to protect sex workers. He doesn't recognize sex workers as deserving members of society.
According to Émilie Laliberté, director of Stella: "We believe its long overview that all of the laws criminalizing sex work, indoors and outdoors, be struck down by the Supreme Court. They contravene our fundamental rights: our right to life, liberty and security. Decriminalization saves lives."
We, Quebecois sex workers, stand in solidarity with sex workers across Canada in the hopes that Canada decriminalizes sex work, allowing us to work in health, safety and dignity.
Stella honours and thanks the three sex workers in Toronto for their courage and determination in defending sex workers' rights.
For more information on why sex work in Canada should be decriminalized: "Out of the Shadows": http://www.firstadvocates.org/out-shadows-why-canada-must-decriminalize-adult-consensual-sex-work