Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau

Supreme Court to hear landmark prostitution case

The Supreme Court of Canada. PHOTO: Andre Forget/QMI Agency
PHOTO: Andre Forget/QMI Agency
The Supreme Court of Canada.

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday on whether to uphold key sections of Canada's prostitution laws.

It's a hot-button case with over 20 interveners scheduled to appear before the court.

Last year, Ontario's Court of Appeal struck down part of the Criminal Code that outlaws "bawdy houses." That ruling would effectively legalize brothels.

It also amended pimping provisions of the code so only those exploiting hookers will be prosecuted. A lower court upheld a ban on communicating for the purpose of prostitution.

The original legal challenge was brought forward by three women, all current or former sex trade workers, including Toronto-area dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford.

They argue three sections of the code — keeping a brothel, living off the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purpose of prostitution — put prostitutes in danger and infringe on their right to life, liberty and security of the person.

The Court of Appeal found that prostitutes would be safer if they were allowed to work indoors and could hire staff, including security.

Opponents say the sex industry — legalized or not — victimizes women, especially the most vulnerable.

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Created: June 14, 2013
Last modified: July 3, 2013
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