TORONTO, ON June 10, 2011 – Hearings begin Monday June 13 in the Ontario Court of Appeal in the case of Bedford et al vs. the Attorneys-General of Ontario and Canada. The challenge, which was successful in Ontario Superior Court, would remove three distinct prohibitions against prostitution. The League is an intervener in the appeal, in coalition with REAL Women of Canada and Christian Legal Fellowship.
“Prostitution is an affront to the dignity of women and men, carries inherent dangers to those who participate in it, and also creates problems for those living in neighbourhoods where prostitution is common,” said Joanne McGarry, League executive director. “We believe the current prohibitions reflect the moral beliefs of the majority of Canadians. Moreover, the decision to strike out these provisions based upon the perception of a greater risk to those who engage in such activities ignores the reality that the dangers inherent with prostitution are impossible to control completely.”
Decriminalizing prostitution tends to draw even more individuals into the industry, not only in the legal brothels, but also on the streets. This only exacerbates the demand for prostitutes, and could cause an increase in the trafficking of women for prostitution.
The case was initiated several years ago by a group of women who have worked as prostitutes, and seeks to legalize living off the avails, keeping a common bawdy house and soliciting for purposes of prostitution, all currently illegal under the Criminal Code. Much of their argument emphasized their belief that prostitutes would be safer if they could operate openly. Last September 28, in Ontario Superior Court, Justice Susan Himel ordered that the pertinent sections of the Criminal Code infringe the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom in a manner that cannot be justified in a free and democratic society, and are therefore unconstitutional.
“We’re honoured to be accepted as an intervener in this case in support of the viewpoint shared by so many Canadians,” said Ms. McGarry.
Factum of the CCRL, REAL Women and Christian Legal Fellowship.