Canadian Court Legalizes Brothels, Support Staff For Prostitutes

I feel like a citizen.” That’s what Valerie Scott — legal coordinator of the Sex Professionals of Canada organization — said today after emerging from a courtroom where the Supreme Court of Ontario struck down two provisions in the criminal code against prostitution.  First law to go: the law against allowing prostitutes to work together under one roof (referred to as a “common bawdy house” in the criminal code), meaning that prostitutes are now able to set up their own places of business where others will also work at the same time, giving a far larger expanse of safety. In making their ruling, the judges stated that “The record is clear that the safest way to sell sex is for a prostitute to work indoors, in a location under her control.”

The second law to go was the law against living off the avails of prostitution. Eliminating this law means that not only can prostitutes now use the money they earn to hire staff such as accountants or schedulers, they can also hire security guards, thus vastly expanding their own safety.

The Ontario Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that the two laws were unconstitutional as they pose an undue risk to prostitutes (prostitution itself is legal in Canada).

However, a third provision was upheld: it is still illegal to communicate in a public place for the purposes of prostitution. Those who wished to see the law struck down said that this law forced prostitutes to size up their clientele too quickly, leaving them unable to fully communicate with their client and vulnerable to predators who may not show their stripes in an initial quick meeting. The court disagreed, and the law remains in full force.

The bawdy-house law will remain in effect for the next 12 months in case the Harper government wishes to mount a challenge to the ruling or introduce new laws to replace those struck down. The Avails law will also be changed to state that it is still illegal to live off the avails of prostitution “in cases of exploitation,” leaving the authorities free to pursue pimps and those who violently control prostitutes for their own gain.

These changes were welcomed today by the sex-worker industry. This ruling will not only allow them to control their places of work, leading to less violence and increased security, but will in fact allow them to operate as fully legitimate businesses — even paying taxes.

Even Stephen Harper can’t object to that.


Related Posts:

Sex Workers Deserve Dignity and Care

Medical Students Turn to Prostitution to Pay the Bills

Afghan Child Bride Tortured For Refusing Prostitution

Photo credit: on Flickr


Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago


Aaron Gallo5 years ago

I'm really glad Canada woke up and legalized prostitution. I hope one day the United States will do the same!

Annmari Lundin
Annmari L5 years ago

No matter what the court says or anyone else, prostitution is still a case of dominance on the part of men. Can anyone thell me how many girls grow up and want to be a prostitute when they enter adulthood?

Pego Rice
Pego R6 years ago

A few years back we had an arrest made public of an 86yo working gal I did a search but found this gal first;

Cheri L.
Cheri L6 years ago

Personally I am too old and crabby to be a prostitute but I think this is far overdue. I would hope that they can manage to get rid of their traditional masters and work for themselves but one step at a time.

Pego Rice
Pego R6 years ago

Most prostitutes just need work that works with their schedule or, since many are teens escaping poor home situations, lack of credentials and skills.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 6 years ago

True Marie but there are male prostitutes too although far fewer than women and they usually cater to other men. To me it's just an indication that many men cannot or will not control themselves. Prostitution reflects more poorly on the men than the women but I cannot see why a self respecting woman would engage in such a lifestyle.

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

This makes several hidden comments about women's equality (lack of); men as johns and our culture in general- and none of them are flattering.

Sam Richardson

While these changes are good for the sex industry, and will no doubt enhance safety for sex workers, the fact that they cannot solicit potential customers is ridiculous. Women working the streets just have to get in the strangers car without being allowed to talk, and by that time, it is generally too late. Inside the murderers car means certain death.

At least give women the ability to screen clients, so that they can avoid potentially unsafe situations. It won't stop violence against sex workers, but it may allow for greater safety.

Lauren B.

Better legal than illegal, but I have no confidence that this will be pimp-free operation that's safe and healthy for women. Making it illegal just made more criminals, though, so worth a shot. to try this