Supreme Court Strikes Down Prostitution Law: What Does This Mean?
The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the country’s anti-prostitution laws Friday, in response to a challenge by women who have worked in the sex trade.
The current law keeps women from being able to communicate in public with customers, outlaws brothels, and makes it illegal for people to live off of money made by acts of prostitution.
Sex trade workers say that without these restrictions, they will be able to make safer choices, including hiring bodyguards and drivers, talking to potential clients to assess risk factors, and greater control of their work environment.
In her ruling, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote that the current laws make the legal act of prostitution dangerous for people engaged in those acts:
“The prohibitions at issue do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate. They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky — but legal — activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks.”
Parliament has a year to come up with new legislation that meets constitutional requirements. Until then, the laws will remain in effect.