Canadian Supreme Court Unanimously Strikes Down Anti-Prostitution LawsS

In a landmark ruling, all of the justices sitting on Canada's highest court have declared the country's current prostitution laws unconstitutional, because they create unsafe conditions for sex workers.

In the court's opinion, Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin writes of the major laws governing street soliciting, brothels, and making a living off of prostitution:

"The prohibitions all heighten the risks. 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."

The ruling comes after three sex workers filed a challenge six years ago that the Ontario Court of Appeals sided with. They argued that among other precautions, being able to solicit work in public was essential to their safety.

In opposition to this ruling, people like Kim Pate, the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, claim that any decriminalization invites exploitation. Seemingly with an ear to this view, the Supreme Court has also suspended their ruling for one year, so that Parliament can possibly draft new laws that criminalize prostitution without infringing on sex workers' rights.

For more information, please find the Supreme Court's entire opinion at the CBC.