Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ian Robertson
Sun Media

Sex workers fight 'outdated' law

Solicitation challenge to restore 'right to liberty and security'

Sex workers are launching a constitutional challenge of laws that ban bawdy houses, profiting from prostitution and recruiting clients.

The Safe Haven Initiative says the Criminal Code provisions "deny sex workers safe legal options for the conducting of legal business."

Prostitution by itself is not illegal.

Ex Bondage Bungalow dominatrix Terri Jean Bedford, retired sex worker and veteran spokesman Valerie Scott, and sex worker Amy Lebovitch will hold a press conference today about their application to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against the laws.

Toronto sex worker Anastasia Kuzyk welcomed the effort, but predicted "they're going to lose" the solicitation challenge because Canada's highest court "already ruled against it some time ago."

The Supreme Court decision was not unanimous, Kuzyk said, adding, "the dissenting judges were all female."

Rulings have improved with more women judges, she said, but if the majority debating such laws are men, the status quo based on "outdated" 19th century moral attitudes will remain.

Kuzyk said people worry if the bawdy house ban is lifted, "sex workers will be living next door. Well, I have news, we already live next door, but most prefer to be low-key and keep their work separate."

Amit Thakore, a spokesman for the Safe Haven Initiative legal team, was optimistic of getting changes to the solicitation law, "which we are revisiting."

The lobbyists said their legal challenges to the Ontario court will argue that laws against bawdy houses, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of prostitution are "depriving sex workers of their right to liberty and security in a manner that is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."

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Created: March 23, 2007
Last modified: March 23, 2007
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