SCC Strikes Down Prostitution Laws
December 20, 2013 7:12 AM Subscribe
The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down Canada's prostitution laws
posted by modernnomad (39 comments total)
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saying that bans on street soliciting, brothels and people living off the avails of prostitution are arbitrary and create severe dangers for vulnerable women.
Link to judgment
, a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice McLachlin.
B, L and S, current or former prostitutes, brought an application seeking declarations that three provisions of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C‑46, which criminalize various activities related to prostitution, infringe their rights under s. 7 of the Charter
: s. 210 makes it an offence to keep or be in a bawdy‑house; s. 212(1)(j) prohibits living on the avails of prostitution; and, s. 213(1)(c) prohibits communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution. They argued that these restrictions on prostitution put the safety and lives of prostitutes at risk, by preventing them from implementing certain safety measures — such as hiring security guards or “screening” potential clients — that could protect them from violence. B, L and S also alleged that s. 213(1)(c) infringes the freedom of expression guarantee under s. 2(b) of the Charter, and that none of the provisions are saved under s. 1
Said the court, "The impugned laws negatively impact security of the person rights of prostitutes and thus engage s. 7 [of the Charter of Rights & Freedoms]. The proper standard of causation is a flexible “sufficient causal connection” standard, as correctly adopted by the application judge. The prohibitions all heighten the risks the applicants face in prostitution — itself a legal activity. They do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate. They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky — but legal — activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks. That causal connection is not negated by the actions of third‑party johns and pimps, or prostitutes’ so‑called choice to engage in prostitution. While some prostitutes may fit the description of persons who freely choose (or at one time chose) to engage in the risky economic activity of prostitution, many prostitutes have no meaningful choice but to do so. Moreover, it makes no difference that the conduct of pimps and johns is the immediate source of the harms suffered by prostitutes. The violence of a john does not diminish the role of the state in making a prostitute more vulnerable to that violence."