Today the Supreme Court of Canada struck down existing criminal laws against prostitution, deeming the legislation unconstitutional and unsafe, and giving the federal government 12 months to rewrite the “grossly disproportionate” laws or they will allow sex workers to legally ply their trade and screen clients, as well as hire their own drivers, bodyguards, and accountants.
Still, under the current law, brothels, living off the avails of prostitution, and communicating for the purpose of prostitution remain illegal.
The ruling states that the current criminal laws violate rights explicitly protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“It is not a crime in Canada to sell sex for money,” wrote Judge Beverely McLachlin. “Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes. The prohibitions at issue 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.”