Court strikes down key aspects of anti-prostitution laws
A provincial court in Ontario struck down a number of key provisions Tuesday in Canada's anti-prostitution laws, saying they were hazardous to sex-trade workers. If the ruling is upheld, it could set a precedent across Canada.
Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford and two other sex-trade workers argued to an Ontario court that laws on prostitution put their safety at risk by forcing sex-trade workers out onto the streets where they face more risks.
An Ontario court judge agreed on Tuesday.
While prostitution in itself is not illegal, just about everything related to it is illegal.
If the Ontario court's ruling is upheld, certain provisions will no longer apply and sex trade workers will be able to keep a common bawdy house or work from home. They will also be able to verbally offer their services, ask for a fee and legally use money they make from selling sex.
Terri-Jean Bedford was pleased with the court's decision.
"It's like an emancipation day for sex-trade workers," said Bedford.
The effects for Manitoba from the Ontario court's ruling is not yet clear.
CTV News has been told Manitoba Justice is reviewing the judge's decision, but that could take time since the decision is more than 100 pages in length.
The federal government has argued that prostitution is dangerous no matter where it is practiced and government officials also argue that Canada could become a sex-tourism destination if prostitution-related activities were decriminalized.
The federal government may also appeal the Ontario court's decision.
"We are concerned with the decision and we are seriously considering appealing it," said Rona Ambrose, minister for the status of women.
Tammy Reimer works for Sage House, an organization that offers counseling, support and medical care to sex-trade workers. She says while the court's ruling is significant, it doesn't automatically make life safer for prostitutes.
Reimer said there needs to be a change in attitudes, not just the law.
- with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley