Friday, December 20, 2013

Canada's Supreme Court Strikes Down Country's Laws Restricting Activities Relating To Prostitution

In a decision today in which 3 religious groups were among the numerous interveners, the Supreme Court of Canada held unconstituitonal three provisions of Canada's criminal code which prohibit certain activities related to prostitution.  In Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, (Sup. Ct. Can., Dec. 20, 2013), the Court held unanimously that the prohibition on keeping or being in a bawdy‑house; living on the avails of prostitution; and communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution, are unconstitutional under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Sec. 7 which protects life, liberty and security, saying in part:
The prohibitions all heighten the risks the applicants face in prostitution — itself a legal activity.  They 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.
However the Court suspended the effectiveness of its judgment for one year in order to give Parliament time to enact a new approach to regulating prostitution.  CBC News reports on the decision. In a press release reacting to the decision, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada(one of the Interveners in the case) said:
In light of today’s decision, we urge the federal government to enact new laws to protect vulnerable women, children and men from victimization and being trafficked.
The Catholic Civil Rights League and Christian Legal Fellowship (the other religious interveners) also issued press releases reacting to the decision. [Thanks to How Appealing for the lead.]

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