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.

Declaration from the
Speakers and Participants

Considering that there is a vast majority of support among the speakers and participants attending this conference that prostitution should be decriminalized;

Considering that the criminal laws currently in place do not work (either to protect sex workers or to reduce street prostitution);

Considering that decriminalization is clearly reflected in the philosophy of the Fraser Committee on Pornography and Prostitution Report of 1985;

Considering that the present laws infringe on the charter rights of sex workers; create a perilous working environment, and maintain their stigmatization;

Considering that the city of Toronto is recommending that the Federal government decriminalize adult prostitution;

Taking into account the experiences in other countries where regulatory schemes designed by policy makers unfamiliar with the realities of the sex trade have historically resulted in criminalization and further prohibition;

Taking into account that sex workers and their organizations must be integrated into the decision-making process and to do so requires an official acknowledgment of their critical role in the implementation of changes to laws;


  1. that the Federal Minister of Justice meet with persons already supporting decriminalization, including but not limited to, the Mayor of Toronto (before the Big City Mayors Conference in Nov. 21), the Ottawa Chief of Police, representatives of feminist organizations (for example, National Action Committee on the Status of Women), sex workers, and other concerned organizations;

  2. that the Federal Minister of Justice prepare a bill of law to repeal all sections of the Criminal Code relating to prostitution (sec. 196, 197, 210 to 214, except 212.2,212.4 and, to enforce existing laws on sexual and physical assault, coercion, kidnapping, extortion, public disturbance in the context of prostitution, as in all other circumstances. (Amongst speakers and participants, some ask for the repealing of sec. 212.2 and 212.4 in order to decriminalize juvenile prostitution; a consensus on this issue was not reached at the conference. There is agreement for the need to thoroughly discuss views related to juvenile prostitution that stigmatize them as victims or criminals);

  3. that federal, provincial, and municipal governments set aside funds for sex workers and sex workers organizations to involve them in developing policies and recommendations around decriminalization, and fund a national congress where these policies could be developed;

  4. that municipalities across Canada form committees to meet with police and policy makers to decide how to implement decriminalization in a matter that maintains the spirit of decriminalization;

  5. that these committees have equal representation from sex workers and their chosen advocates and supporters (such as civil rights attorneys, feminists and community-based organizations) on the one hand, and from concerned groups/organizations (neighbourhood groups...) on the other;

  6. that funds be set aside to ensure these committees in cities across Canada share and exchange information on policies around prostitution;

  7. that in Montreal, the date for such a meeting be set and the representatives be nominated within one month, 10th of November, 1996.

    Frances M. Shaver, Daniel Sansfacon, Lee Lakeman for the speakers and participants

When Sex Works... [Rights Groups]

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

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