Canada top court is sensibile about sex worker laws; Internet reactionaries are not

Great news from Canada.

Canada’s top court has struck down three key laws concerning prostitution in this country, declaring them unconstitutional, disproportionate and overly broad.

In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court said the laws prohibiting keeping a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution, and communicating in public for purposes of prostitution “do not pass Charter muster.” It said they infringe on the rights of prostitutes by depriving them of security of the person.

Showing it is possible for old legal folk to act sensibly toward such a touchy (excuse the pun) subject.

[Chief Justice Beverley] McLachlin wrote that given prostitution itself is legal [in Canada], the three laws made it far too difficult for prostitutes to safely engage in sex work.

She wrote the laws “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.”

The law banning brothels forces prostitutes onto the streets, McLachlin wrote, and the resulting health and safety risks imposed upon street workers is “grossly disproportionate” to the law’s objective of preventing public nuisance.

Sex work is legal in Canada, though some elements, such as public communication, appear to still be criminal.

And with the sensible and adult treatment of sex, not to mention defending it on a public health and harm perspective, inevitably those with less sensible, more knee-jerk reactions, will also find their voice. This doesn’t mean all opposition comprise less sensible people and those in favour more sensible; I’m focusing here on the reasoning, not the people. [Read more...]