Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on Prostitution Laws

I welcome the landmark decision today by the Supreme Court of Canada that strikes down 3 laws relating to prostitution.  They ruled that bans on street soliciting, brothels, and people living off the avails of prostitution are unconstitutional and create serious risks for sex workers. 

The exploitation, murder and violence against sex trade workers in Canada happens at an alarming rate, and until today, the laws dealing with prostitution remained unchanged and governments remained unwilling to realistically deal with this growing public safety issue.  These laws have been a failure, both from the perspective of assisting and protecting sex workers as well as in mitigating the impacts of street prostitution on local communities.

I also congratulate and thank the many advocates who never gave up in pressing for these changes in order to uphold the rights and safety of sex workers.

All levels of government must carefully review Supreme Court’s decision. Any new laws that are contemplated must be done in consultation with sex workers – to determine what needs to be done to protect the rights and safety of sex workers, as well as the wider public.

I applaud the ground-breaking work of the three complainants, and Professor Alan Young for bringing forward the original case to the Ontario courts, and for drawing attention to the inherent rights of sex workers.  I applaud the work of Katrina Pacey of Pivot Legal Society, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, for her courage and perseverance in bringing this important issue forward.

It has taken many years of advocacy and legal challenge to reach this historic decision.