Canadian Court May Strike Down All Remaining Prostitution Laws

In a move that could radically change how Canada deals with prostitution, the Ontario Court of Appeals is hearing a case this week that could effectively legalize The Oldest Profession throughout the country, making all Canadian sex workers safer in the process. Although sex work is technically legal in Canada already, all sorts of “blue laws” remain on the books that make it easy to prosecute anyone who is not simply turning tricks out on the street. These laws include bans on communicating for the purpose of prostitution (think of all the hilarious and/or dangerous misunderstandings that could occur as a result of hookers and johns not being allowed to communicate) and “keeping a common bawdy house” (the old timey language of which should clue you into just how ancient these laws are).

The laws effectively ban prostitutes from taking safety measures like hiring bodyguards and sussing out clients before meeting them, which, as anyone with a brain can see, inevitably makes the allegedly “legal” work much more dangerous than it needs to be. “I find it hard to understand why it’s not self-evident that these provisions harm the ability to carry out prostitution safely,” said Justice David Doherty to the federal government. “These are things that just as a matter of common sense make the business of trading sex safer.” He also argued that there is no other legal profession for which the government has these types of restrictions.

For their part, the federal and Ottawa governments are arguing that they have no obligation to make prostitution safer, as “there’s no constitutionally protected right to engage in the sex trade.” They’re right about the second half, but then again, there’s no explicitly stated right to work in a factory either, but that doesn’t mean the government can’t legislate for the safety of factory workers. This is also fallacious because Ontario isn’t trying to increase their safety with new laws, but merely to stop decreasing their safety by striking down stupid laws that have already been made.

It will interesting to see if the federal Canadian government will listen to reason and remove these absurd restrictions from the books. The resulting decrease in violence towards prostitutes would stand as an example to American legislators of how to make the human beings who engage in this profession safer and less scared. If all the resources that currently go towards locking up prostitutes were put towards rehabilitation programs for those who want to leave the trade but aren’t sure how, we’d have a healthier and happier country. But that would be too logical, wouldn’t it?

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    • Melissa

      I also think striking down those laws will also have a significant impact on the number of prostitutes who get addicted to drugs through their pimps, and even, the number of prostitutes who are “owned” by pimps. By allowing them to legally work from their own homes, hire legitimate protection, etc., prostitutes will be working for themselves, and not living a life controlled by the abuse, drugs, and dependency of a pimp/prostitute relationship.

      • August S.

        Oh wow, Melissa, I misread your name as melinda and had a brief existential crisis brought on by the prospect of agreeing completely with The Gloss’s most infamous (and arguably most absurd) commenter. It was like walking in on Sarah Palin giving the complete and correct history of the Peloponnesian War.

    • Eileen

      We had a conversation about this in one of my history classes (talking about historical prostitution, this is where the conversation goes), and according to the only girl who actually specialized in (modern) women’s studies said that sexual trafficking is apparently just as bad in countries with legal prostitution. So I’m reluctant to come down on the side of legalizing prostitution. I would definitely support decriminalizing it, though, so that prostitutes who have been victimized by clients and/or pimps, agencies, whatever, wouldn’t have to be afraid of coming forward.

    • Jo

      Wow, I’m very proud of my country. I recently had a long debate with someone about legalizing prostitution. I’m very much on the support side. Yes, human trafficking is a problem in countries where prostitution is legal. However, this problem is less complicated to tackle than problems such as the high HIV rates and deaths or abuses of women working in the sex trade.

      Prostitution WILL NEVER be eliminated, no matter how strict the regulations are. Therefore, the only thing to do is to protect those already working in the trade. In Arab countries prostitution is complete illegal, but their HIV rates are still much much higher than Japan, where prostitution is legalized under many restrictions. Japan has an impressive record of the lowest percentage and number of HIV patients in the entire world.

      However, I doubt legalization will ever happen in America, having a much larger conservative population. Religious conservative population won’t even support using contraceptive, let alone prostitution legalization.

    • Brothels in Melbourne

      Its necessary that legislation steps into the modern age and reality. This profession will never die, nor should it it is only human nature. Safety is paramount and can only ever be ensured as much as it can be once it has been legalized. It has been legal in Australia for some time but the laws differ from state to state and there are still quite a number of laws that do not reflect the attitudes of the majority of the community. More information can be found at