The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Legal Network), the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) applaud the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Canada v Bedford to strike down three key provisions of Canada’s prostitution laws as unconstitutional.
The decision upholds sex workers’ human rights to work and to health by acknowledging the ways in which criminalization contributes to unsafe working conditions for sex workers.
While sex work itself is not illegal in Canada, provisions in Canada’s Criminal Code on communicating, procuring, bawdy houses and living off the avails of prostitution make it all but impossible to engage in sex work without risk of prosecution.
With this decision, Parliament must ensure that any new laws governing sex work do not replicate the harms caused by the unconstitutional provisions.
For more information about the issues and the decision:
- Decision of the Supreme Court of Canada: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/13389/index.do .
- Joint press release:
- Bedford Supreme Court of Canada decision – News Release 2013 Dec 20 (English) www.halco.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Bedford-NewsRelease-ENG-2013Dec20.pdf.
- Bedford Supreme Court of Canada decision – News Release 2013 Dec 20 (Français) www.halco.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Bedford-NewsRelease-FRA-2013dec20.pdf.
- Joint factum to the Supreme Court of Canada (2013 May): www.aidslaw.ca/site/canada-v-bedford-supreme-court-of-canada-factum-of-the-interveners-hiv-coalition/.
- Overview of how the criminalization of clients and third parties in sex work violates the human rights of sex workers: www.aidslaw.ca/publications/publicationsdocEN.php?ref=1342.
- Summary of published research to support the decision: www.gshi.cfenet.ubc.ca/bedford.
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