October 25, 2012
Top court to hear 'bawdy house' appeal
By Brigitte Pellerin, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would hear the federal government's appeal of a lower court ruling that would legalize brothels.
In 2010, the Ontario Superior Court struck down the Criminal Code's provisions regarding bawdy houses because they violate a prostitute's right to life and security of the person under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court found that sex workers would mitigate risks of physical violence if they were allowed to work indoors, in close proximity to others and if they could hire staff, including security.
The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld that ruling, and earlier this year the federal government appealed to the Supreme Court.
"It is our position that the Criminal Code provisions are constitutionally sound," Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said in March, as he instructed federal lawyers to appeal the ruling.
"The Supreme Court of Canada only grants leave in cases involving issues of public importance, which this case certainly is," said Katrina Pacey, a lawyer for the sex worker rights organizations that intervened in the case. "I am thrilled this important human rights issue has finally made its way to Canada's top court and they will have a chance to hear how Canada's prostitution laws place sex workers in unbelievably dangerous circumstances and deprive them of meaningful opportunities to ensure their safety."