Ontario Appeal Court strikes out unconstitutional anti-prostitution laws

On 26th March 2012, the Ontario Appeal Court, in an effort to protect the safety and wellbeing of sex workers, held that the anti-prostitution laws within Sections 210, 212, and 213 of the Canadian Criminal Code that ban brothels are unconstitutional. These sections prohibited the keeping of a “common bawdy house,” engaging in communications for the purposes of soliciting sex, and “living on the avails” of the sex trade. The Court indicated that the anti-prostitution laws put sex workers’ rights to life, liberty, and security of the person in danger according to their rights under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This decision will enable sex workers to hire drivers, bodyguards, support staff, and legally work indoors in brothels or “bawdy houses,” but the Court upheld the ban on open solicitation of customers for the purposes of selling sex. For now this decision is only binding in Ontario, but the Court has proposed that Parliament amend the law. A possible appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada could also render a binding ruling on the whole country.


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