Canada: Charter challenge of Canada's prostitution laws resumes today - PressFrom - Canada

CanadaCharter challenge of Canada's prostitution laws resumes today

18:26  23 april  2019
18:26  23 april  2019 Source:

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Current laws on sex work, introduced by the Conservative government in 2014, make it illegal to purchase or advertise sexual services and illegal to live on the material benefits from sex work.

The passage of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 allowed for the provision of challenging the constitutionality of laws governing prostitution law in Canada in addition to interpretative case law .

Charter challenge of Canada's prostitution laws resumes today © CBC Prominent Toronto lawyer James Lockyer is representing Harvey and Anwar in court.

Lawyers will present their closing arguments today and tomorrow in Kitchener, Ont., in the first test case of whether Canada's prostitution laws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The London, Ont.-based escort agency's lawyers will argue shutting down the business and charging the owners violated employees' security of the person, a right guaranteed under the charter.

The case brings into the question whether the laws actually endanger workers in the sex trade.

The owners of Fantasy World Escorts, Tiffany Harvey and Hamad Anwar, were charged in November 2015 after their agency was shut down by police.

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Prostitution is not illegal in Canada , though it has been deemed against the law to live off the avails of another’ s prostitution , as was street soliciting and operation of brothels. One current prostitute and two former sex workers spurred the challenge , saying such work would be safer if they were allowed

A legal challenge to three of Canada ' s many prostitution laws was filed in Ontario Superior Court in March 2007. [2] In a decision handed down by Madam Justice Susan Himel in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on September 28, 2010, the prostitution laws were declared invalid.

Their trial was held in London, but closing arguments will be heard in Kitchener because of scheduling conflicts.

"This is not a local issue. It's a case that's playing out in London and Kitchener, but it has implications for sex workers across the country," said Chris Bruckert, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa whose work focuses on the rights of people in the sex trade.

Prostitution laws enacted in 2014

Harvey and Anwar initially faced a long list of charges, including human trafficking, but those charges were eventually dropped by the Crown.

Harvey now faces one charge of materially benefiting from the sale of someone's sexual services. Anwar faces the same charge and a charge of procuring and advertising someone else's sexual services.

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The laws that control prostitution in Canada are on trial today in a Toronto courtroom, as two prostitutes and a dominatrix challenge the laws that they say make no sense.

This allows them to launch a Charter challenge of the Criminal Code’s provisions against keeping a common bawdy house, living on the avails of Justice Cromwell added that the ongoing court battle between the Attorney General of Canada and the Ontario Courts over Canada ’ s prostitution laws is

Those three offences are relatively new, brought in under Canada's 2014 prostitution law, Bill C-36, which criminalizes the purchasing of sex but decriminalizes its sale.

Laws 'quite problematic'

Advocates for sex-trade workers have been calling for the new prostitution laws to be repealed since they were brought in by the Harper government.

Opponents say that, by criminalizing people who hire sex-trade workers, the laws put these workers at risk. They argue clients are less likely to give their real names, for example, so sex-trade workers can't screen them before a meeting.

"I think the laws are quite problematic. They increase vulnerability to violence," Bruckert said.

"Third parties (such as escort agencies) are not always excellent, but they provide screening, they ensure that you're in contact with people, quite simply having someone know where you are and that the client knows that someone knows where you are, that reduces risk."

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A constitutional challenge against three sections of the criminal code relating to prostitution has been filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by three sex trade workers. "It' s a great day for Canada and even more so a great day for Canadian women everywhere," said Bedford at a news conference

A lawyer representing one of 27 men swept up in a downtown Sydney prostitution sting last year called John Be Gone says police violated his client' s charter rights. After the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country' s prostitution laws in 2013, new legislation was passed in 2014.

New laws create dangers, lawyer says

The accused are being represented by prominent Toronto defence lawyer James Lockyer.

Charter challenge of Canada's prostitution laws resumes today © Kate Dubinski/CBC News Kate Dubinski/CBC News

He has been involved in several cases of people being wrongly convicted, including Steven Truscott and David Milgaard.

During the trial, Lockyer called two witnesses, both academics, whose studies he says prove the new laws force the sex trade underground and make it more dangerous.

The Crown's witnesses argued the sex trade is inherently violent and based on a foundation of inequality, and punishing the purchasing of such services reduces demand.

Those who are watching the case closely say it could eventually be decided in the Supreme Court of Canada.

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