TORONTO -- Ottawa allows addicts to shoot illegal drugs in government facilities but won't let prostitutes work indoors even though selling sex is legal, a court heard today.
"Safe injection sites indoors prevent many heroin addicts from dying on the streets and stops the spread of AIDS," law professor Alan Young told a court reviewing the constitutional rights of sex workers, who aren't permitted to operate bawdy houses.
"The liberty and security of life is being denied to sex workers because they are not able to have a safe place to work," he said.
Canada permits abortion, which gives a woman control over her body without government interference, Young said.
"The law allows the termination of a pregnancy, but removes the decision making powers of sex workers to move indoors ... to avoid being murdered on the street," he said.
Young says because this is a "hot potato" issue, the government doesn't want to touch it.
"They recognize the problem but won't do anything because they believe prostitution harms all Canadian society and they won't help them be safe because what they are doing is degrading," he said.
"It is insulting to women to say what you are doing is degrading so we won't help you," Young said.
He said a United Nations report on legal bawdy houses showed they were able to break ties with criminal organizations. But in Canada, sex workers' liberty and security of life is being denied.
"The law prevents a person to take the steps to protect their security which is unconstitutional. The system in Canada has failed," Young said.
If the bawdy house laws were struck down, sex workers could hire a bodyguard, an accountant and a maid, he said. Under the current law, people on a sex worker's payroll could be charged with living off the avails of prostitution. Young also claims the Crown's list of experts are not creditable and have a political agenda.
"They have done very little research. These are people who will be talking to you as if you are a political assembly," he warned the court. "Crown witnesses are irrelevant and all have political ideology."
Only one Crown witness is from Canada.
"These witnesses go to other countries to influence their political view against prostitution," Young said.
He said they performed 10-minute interviews with sex workers living in dire straights from countries like Zimbabwe.
"What has that got to do with Canada?" Young asked.