September 21, 2012
B.C. sex workers win right to challenge prostitution laws
By Brigitte Pellerin, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - A B.C. sex worker group has won the right to challenge the constitutionality of Canada's prostitution laws.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday morning that the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society can be granted public interest standing to challenge the Criminal Code provisions dealing with adult prostitution.
The federal government had argued the group, along with retired sex worker Sheryl Kiselbach, didn't have the right to challenge the laws because they weren't facing prostitution charges.
Katrina Pacey, of the Pivot Legal Society, told QMI Agency she was pleased with the decision.
"The court this morning said: 'Federal government, you do not have the right to shut these women down, to tell them that they don't get their day in court, and they will be able to proceed with their court case, be able to stand up for all the women whose lives have been lost in the downtown eastside and across the country and fight for justice for sex workers everywhere,'" Pacey said outside court.
In March of this year, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that Ontario prostitutes should have the right to operate indoors and hire staff such as security guards. The federal government appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has not yet decided whether it will hear the case.
- With files from Ada Slivinski