Ontario Honors Sex Workers’ Rights by Legalizing Brothels

Ontario’s highest court made a landmark decision towards the decriminalization of sex word by legalizing brothels. The five judges unanimously voted in favor of decriminalizing brothels in order to allow sex workers to conduct their business in safer environments. The court ruled that communicating for the purposes of prostitution will remain illegal, a point in the ruling Mr. Justice James MacPherson and Madame Justice Eleanore Cronk criticized, arguing it will add to the dangers of already vulnerable street prostitues. The decision also made room for sex workers to higher bodyguards or drivers provided no one profits off the worker by means of exploitation. For a closer look at the decision, check out The Globe and Mail’s breakdown.

The decision represents an important step in government choosing to prioritize the safety of citizens over the privileging of certain moral stances, as The Globe and Mail reports:

The judges also explicitly rejected a Crown argument that prostitutes make an informed decision to enter a dangerous trade, saying that prostitutes deserve as much protection as other citizens who work in “dangerous, but legal, enterprises.”

Lawyer Alan Young represented the three women who put forth the case, including Terri-Jean Bedford, pictured above. HuffPost Canada quotes Bedford, a retired dominatrix, on the ruling:

“We’re not sex slaves. We’re not going to give it away. We’re not going to lay down and take the beatings any more like the police and the federal government would like us to.”

The decision is binding in Ontario but is expected to go to the Supreme Court of Canada in fall of 2013.

Thanks to Kaila for the tip.

Landmark ruling legalizes brothels in Ontario [The Globe and Mail]

Breaking down Ontario’s prostitution ruling [The Globe and Mail]

Prostitution Canada Law Appeal: Ontario’s Top Court Strikes Down Brothel Ban [HuffPost Canada]


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