International Conference on Prostitution and Other Sex Work

Université du Québec a Montréal,
September 27-29, 1996

Check out the report on "When Sex Works" from the Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver.

Positions of the Coalition to Decriminalize Adult
Prostitution in Canada

In order for sex workers to work in security and dignity without stigmatization, the Coalition considers that:
  1. Working within the sex trade is a legitimate means to earn ones living for an adult.

    Sex work includes the following: street prostitution, escort service, telephone sex services, pornography industry, erotic massage, nude dancing, lap dancing, or others. Individuals working within the sex industry are considered sex workers.

  2. Sex workers have the same rights and responsibilities as all other workers.and proposes that:

  3. Sex work be regulated, like all other work, using already existing laws such as occupational, health, and safety codes, and taxation laws, among others.

  4. Activities related to prostitution between adults should be decriminalized.* And, all Criminal Code sections relating to adult prostitution be repealed. All provincial and municipal regulations which target prostitutes and other sex workers to prevent the practice of their trade will then be unconstitutional under the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

  5. Abusive behaviour (kidnapping; sexual assault, theft...) and disruptive activities (disturbing the peace...), that may arrive in the sex trade as in other businesses, be regulated using existing criminal laws sections designed explicitly for such behaviour and activities.

  6. The commercial aspects of the sex trade can be regulated, as for all other trades, by municipal or provincial laws (for example, commercial zoning). It is recommended that, following the decriminalization of prostitution, cities and provinces form committees of sex workers, community workers, lawyers, police, researchers, elected officials and other citizens (ensuring decision-making powers for each of its members) to plan the commercial regulation of the sex trade.

  7. Wider social programs must be developed in consultation with sex workers and implemented in order to: educate the population on sex trade issues (in order to, for example, develop citizen respect toward men and women who have decided to work in the sex trade, as well as towards their clients); improve relations between the police service and sex workers; among others.

* Juvenile prostitution is a complex issue that may need a multilateral approach for its effective prevention. The sections of the Criminal Code on prostitution do not seem to be sufficient to respond to the issue. Without repealing subsection 212 (2) and 212 (4) which criminalizes pimps and clients of juvenile prostitutes, proactive approaches that support youth who have run away or on the street may be more effective means to prevent juvenile prostitution. Services such as those provided by street workers using harm reduction programs, shelters and detox centres should be increased to support street youth. The Coalition acts on issues dealing with adult prostitution.

When Sex Works... [Rights Groups]

Created: November 23, 1996
Last modified: September 26, 1997

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