An escort is silhouetted against a window as she poses at a downtown Vancouver apartment, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017. An alliance of 25 sex worker rights groups says the Criminal Code violate sex workers’ constitutional rights to security, personal autonomy, life, liberty, free expression, free association, and equality. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

An escort is silhouetted against a window as she poses at a downtown Vancouver apartment, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017. An alliance of 25 sex worker rights groups says the Criminal Code violate sex workers’ constitutional rights to security, personal autonomy, life, liberty, free expression, free association, and equality. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Criminal laws violate charter rights of sex workers, advocates say in court challenge

Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform say provisions violate sex workers’ charter rights

An alliance of 25 sex worker rights groups is asking the Ontario Court of Justice to strike down several sections of the Criminal Code as unconstitutional.

The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform said the provisions violate sex workers’ charter rights to security, personal autonomy, life, liberty, free expression, free association and equality.

Group co-ordinator Jenn Clamen says sex workers increasingly experience the heavy hand of law enforcement as a result of the criminal provisions.

“We have been patiently waiting on the empty promises of parliamentarians to uphold the rights of sex workers,” Clamen said.

“This government has spent five years paying lip service to human rights and to feminism, and it’s time for them to act.”

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2013 that three prostitution prohibitions were unconstitutional because they caused harm to sex workers and contravened their rights to liberty and security.

The alliance said the Conservative government of the day missed an opportunity to make things better for sex workers and instead brought in new provisions under the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act that have had negative effects.

It said the measures prohibit sex workers from:

• negotiating conditions and establishing consent to sexual activity;

• obtaining relevant information from clients and engaging in other screening practices vital to safety;

• working in non-isolated, collective and indoor workspaces;

• and establishing important working and safety relationships with managers, receptionists, drivers and interpreters, as well as other sex workers who pool resources, services and knowledge.

NDP justice critic Randall Garrison said there has been no action from the Liberal government to protect the rights of sex workers.

He urged the government to complete a scheduled legislative review of the law passed under the Conservatives.

Sex workers have spent the last five years in a precarious position where they remain stigmatized and vulnerable to violence, he said.

“Unfortunately, there has been no action and instead advocates have had to start a court challenge to force the government to act.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nav Canada will not be closing the tower at West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada tower to remain open at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization was considering closing the tower

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson’s REDress Project exhibit vandalized

The REDress Project brings attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

Dr. Katherine Oldfield is a naturopathic physician, mother, and active member of the Nelson-West Kootenay chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Photo: Submitted
COLUMN: Restore our Earth, restore our health

Katherine Oldfield marks Earth Day by writing about the priorities we need to have

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

Most Read