Civil Liberties

Laws Surrounding Prostitution Struck Down in Ontario


Judicial good sense from Ontario, could spread Canadialand-wide:

An Ontario court tossed out key provisions of Canada's anti-prostitution laws on Tuesday, saying they did more harm than good, following a constitutional challenge by three sex-trade workers.

Prostitution is not itself illegal in Canada, but nearly every activity associated with it is, such as communicating for the purposes of prostitution, living off its avails or operating a common bawdy house.

The sex-trade workers who launched the constitutional challenge argued the restrictions forced them to work in secrecy and on the street, and thus made them more vulnerable to violence from both clients and pimps.

Justice Susan Himel of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice agreed, ruling the laws forced prostitutes to work in conditions where the dangers they faced outweighed any harm that easing restrictions on prostitution would have on the general public….

Although Tuesday's ruling only stops enforcement of the laws in Ontario, it can be used as grounds to strike down similar laws in Canada's other provinces.

The government and several conservative groups who had defended the laws in court were expected to appeal Tuesday's ruling, and the court granted a 30-day stay to allow officials time to deal with any changes.