Federal Sex Work Laws Consultation

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For more than 35 years the BC Civil Liberties Association has maintained that the exchange of sex for money should not be criminalized. The Supreme Court’s decision in December 2013 to strike down Canada’s criminal laws for acts related to prostitution was an important moment. The  recognition that these laws helped to create dangerous conditions for sex workers underscored how deeply these laws have failed people working in the sex industry, their families, and our communities.The Supreme Court’s ruling included a 12-month window for Parliament to decide whether to enact new laws that criminalize adult prostitution. The Federal government has indicated that they intend to introduce new criminal laws quickly. It took seven years before the courts, and decades of work before that, to have Canada’s criminal laws that endanger sex workers struck down. This progress could be undone in a few short months if the proposed laws re-criminalize sex work.

Our Response

The federal government held an online consultation and asked for input from the public. The government’s online consultation closed on March 17.

The BCCLA made a submission to the federal government that you can read here:

LINK>>> BCCLA sex work submission to Justice Canada March 17 2014

“The BCCLA’s position is that capable adults should be able to exercise autonomy over their bodies,” said Megan Vis-Dunbar, Vice President of the BCCLA. “Danger, coercion and lack of reciprocity are neither essential nor unique to sex work. Nor should anyone assume that individuals would never willingly elect to engage in prostitution.”

As an organization, we believe that only decriminalization and regulation of sex work will afford people the dignity, safety, and autonomy that they deserve. It is our position that criminalizing the selling or buying of sex will recreate the dangerous conditions which, not only precipitated the Court’s ruling of unconstitutionality, but have ravaged our communities and families. We have been making this argument publicly since 1978. If you are interested in better understanding our ongoing position on this issue, I encourage you to explore our historical resources on the matter, especially this one.


10 thoughts on “Federal Sex Work Laws Consultation

  1. I agree that:

    It is time for Canada to make the transition to full decriminalization in order for Canada’s laws to be consistent with the health, safety and human rights of sex workers. Sex workers are adults whose autonomy must be respected. Programs that seek to facilitate leaving sex work if, or when, people want them are key, and these relationships of trust are damaged through the antagonistic and paternalistic approaches of criminalization. Criminal prohibitions have served to make the lives of Canadian sex workers more dangerous. A move to criminalize the purchasing of sex would do the same.

  2. There has always been prostitution and it should be legalized including giving decent health care to those in the sex trade. It isn’t going to “go away.” Give those who do become sex workers protection!

  3. The more things are illegal the more they are pushed underground. protect the lives of these workers by legalizing prostitution.

  4. I support the information that you have provided. To criminalize prostitution does put people at rick for violence. The only reasonable step is to decriminalize sex work. I support non-criminal laws that encourage protection, health issues etc. It is time to stop making people criminals and offer health and social supports.

  5. It’s time to decriminalize sex work for the safety of the workers. It’s the illegality of the act that places them in such danger.

  6. I responded to the government “Have your Say” consultation and let them know I was available for further consultation. I told them the Federal Government should “Wash its Hands” of this issue as it is a Health Issue best dealt with by the Provinces… I have had no response from them yet. Keep up the good work, this is not over !

  7. I don’t agree with your analysis. Prositution, gambling, drugs and corruption go hand in hand.

  8. Consenting adults. Whose business is it if they charge for their services? They are providing a service as old and established as time. It is better to regulate it. Amersterdam has the right attitude toward the sex trade and protects sex workers. Canada should do the same.

  9. Also adults could be sexslaves. Especially trafficking of foreign people should be fought as a criminal offense. Don’t criminalise the slaves, but the slaveholders.

  10. Thanks for finally talking about > Federal Sex Work Laws Consultation | BC Civil Liberties Association < Loved it!