HALCO and Partners Call on Federal Government to Protect the Health and Safety of Sex Workers

On July 23, 2020, a coalition including HALCO called for a federal directive requiring prosecutors to refrain from enforcing criminal laws relating to sex work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed stark health inequities and the many structural factors that increase people’s vulnerability to the virus. Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups of people in Canada and their communities include a large proportion of people experiencing multiple forms of discrimination and social exclusion. Today, many sex workers remain out of work, and all of those who continue are working in precarious conditions. But unlike workers in other industries, sex workers have largely been unable to access emergency income supports because of the criminalization of sex work. Still others will not engage with government institutions for fear of repercussions due to criminalization, stigma and discrimination.

While a federal directive only governs federal Crown attorneys who handle prosecutions in the three territories, a federal directive would send a strong message to the entire country that the criminalization of sex work does not promote human rights and is not in the public interest.

See here for the coalition letter in English, and here for the coalition letter in French.  

The coalition includes:

  • Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform
  • Aboriginal Legal Services

  • Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights

  • Amnesty International Canada
  • BC Civil Liberties Association

  • Black Legal Action Centre

  • Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

  • Coalition of Quebec Community Organizations Fighting AIDS (COCQ-SIDA)
  • Criminal Lawyers’ Association

  • First Peoples Justice Center of Montreal

  • HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO)

  • Pivot Legal Society

  • West Coast LEAF
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