OTTAWA, October 25, 2012 – The Catholic Civil Rights League is pleased to learn that the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has allowed an appeal in the Ontario Court of Appeal ruling eliminating some of Canada’s prostitution laws. Leave to appeal and leave to cross-appeal have been granted by the SCC without costs. The motion to stay the decision of the Court of Appeal until the Supreme Court renders its judgment was also granted.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ruling retained the prohibition against soliciting for prostitution, but lifted the prohibition on keeping a common bawdy house and living off the avails. While the Ontario ruling only applies in Ontario, a Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision would apply nationwide. In announcing the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in April, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said: “It is our position that the Criminal Code provisions are constitutionally sound, and denounce and deter the most harmful and public aspects of prostitution.”
Joanne McGarry, League executive director, says the appeal will help give voice to the concerns of many Canadians that a more liberal prostitution law will prove harmful to women and girls and harmful to the family as well as make Canada an easier place for human traffickers to operate.
“With our partners REAL Women of Canada and Christian Legal Fellowship, we have been intervenors in this case from its beginning in Ontario Superior Court. Our position was and remains that while the law is not perfect, any liberalization of it would not improve prostitutes’ safety, and would make it easier to lure and exploit vulnerable girls and women. Evidence from other jurisdictions suggests that when legalization occurs, the illegal side of the business continues to flourish.”
The 2010 Ontario Superior Court Ruling struck down all three prostitution laws that were part of the case, arguing that provisions against soliciting, living off the avails and keeping a common bawdy house should be legalized because they placed unconstitutional restrictions on prostitutes’ ability to take safety measures such as hiring security to protect themselves.