Canadian Court Strikes Down Prostitution Law

There is an interesting ruling out of Canada where Justice Susan Himel of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has struck down Canada’s prostitution laws as violating the basic rights of prostitutes and their clients. It is a position that many libertarians and some civil liberties advocates have long advocated — objecting to the criminalizing of such agreements between consenting adults absent some injury to a third-party or cognizable crime.

Himel held “[t]hese laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

There have been calls for decriminalization in the United States, as has been the case in other countries. This issue is part of an overall debate over the imposition of morality laws. There are still laws on the books criminalizing adultery and fornication. As noted in this column, these laws are presumptively unconstitutional after Lawrence v. Texas. However, society still believes that (while consenting adults can have relations for free) it should be a crime for there to be compensation for such relations. Some argue that these laws are meant to address the surrounding crimes and abuses associated with this industry. However, decriminalization advocates insist that such crimes and abuses will be reduced through legalization and regulation.

The challenge in Canada was brought by Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford and prostitutes Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch. They insisted that they want to participate in an open and regulated business with other consenting adults. They complained that criminalization has forced them into back alleys and dangerous surroundings where they are beaten and victimized.

Canada refers to such establishments as “bawdy houses,” which were illegal until this ruling.

The Court stayed the decision for 30 days to allow the government to appeal.

Source: The Star

35 thoughts on “Canadian Court Strikes Down Prostitution Law”

  1. I totally agree that keeping this natural activity (intercourse and the desire for it) illegal is the same stupidity we followed on alcohol prohibition. I don’t much care for alcohol, but I’d rather have it legal than feeding Al Capone and his minions on their climb to power in the underworld. Can we wake up and see it is the same here? Like drugs, people want sex and they will get it. Do we want to increase our standing as having more African Americans in jail right now than we ever had in slavery?
    This is a major issue because it does state what rights you have in your home and what you can “legally” do there. We are just starting to realize that pot is not the insanity inducing first step to a life of crime and drug abuse. I see all these “god” related issues the same, it is one group pushing the rest of US to conform and if we don’t we face jail. Is that what happened in Egypt? I mean the part where folks say that’s enough no more pope or church dictating what I smoke, drink or who I have knowledge (carnal or otherwise) of in my own home or theirs is no one business but our own!

  2. What people fail to realize is that by keeping this illegal, you keep the black market open and sex trafficking continues to grow. I know prostitution is a touchy subject but lets face it, guys want to get laid and most don’t know how so they have to pay a woman. By keeping it illegal we create an unsafe environment. And I’m a girl and want prostitution legalized!


  3. It’s called “the world’s oldest profession” with apologies to politicians and priests, who also love to screw US.
    Why are we so afraid that “god will get US” when we know that prohibition does NOT work? Why are the “legalize is doom!” gang not talking about Nevada? Try to harm or take advantage of those girls and you will find out the true meaning of “in a world of hurt!”
    Let’s stop pretending that the only reason we won’t support legalization is we are afraid of our mommies (read neighbors, community, voters and priests) who will all look down on US. (stop here for a good cry!)
    We seem to understand that sex is natural and can be quite pleasurable (it’s how we mostly all got here, after all), so why are we so afraid of saying so?
    As Palin 😉 says, “man up, grow a pair” and let legalize it in the US so we can really claim to be the land of the free with some (non-god) given inalienable rights!

  4. Ballot Measure K: Enforcement of Laws Related to Prostitution and Sex Workers – “Shall the City: stop enforcing laws against prostitution; stop funding or supporting the First Offender Prostitution Program or any similar anti-prostitution program; enforce existing criminal laws that prohibit crimes such as battery, extortion and rape, regardless of the victim’s status as a sex worker; and fully disclose the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against sex workers?”

    * Support: 42.44%
    * Oppose: 57.56%
    above is a poll question from Source: City and County of San Francisco 2008 Election Results (PDF) 74KB, Nov. 4, 2008)…is it just me or is there a serious problem with this question?

  5. @Mike Spindell QUOTE
    The criminalization of prostitution has always been a bad idea and like prohibition & the Drug War, is really a matter of hypocritical pandering. UNQUOTE

    Very hypocritical since the federal government themselves have run a brothel!

    That’s right THE FEDS ran the Mustang Ranch when it was seized for taxes, and CONTINUED to run it until it was mentioned on the Tonight Show.
    It was then shut down and sold for back taxes for $1.2 million dollars at auction…(even though the previous owner had offered to buy it from the IRS for $4 million).

    Your right about the rest too.
    They didn’t repeal prohibition because booze was determined to now be healthy for people. They repealed it to get rid of all the crime & corruption associated with it.

    And all the cost in policing, prosecuting, and imprisoning people. (Which is why a lot of states are going broke now.)

    Would you send a buddy that offered you a beer from his six pack to prison for as many years as some get for drugs?
    Basically that’s what you are doing with drug laws. And might have done during prohibition when it was illegal. The morality of the situation never changed, ONLY THE LAWS.

    Everyone didn’t become drunks after the repeal of prohibition. And I’m sure that the same is probably true about drugs.
    The government has ALL drugs lumped together, like they are all the same, but we all know there is a big difference between some of them.

    If they were legalized we could at least get people off the worst of them, so that these freaks aren’t out killing people for them.
    We have fought this “War on Drugs” for decades, to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result would be insanity.

  6. I’m concerned about the lack of alternatives in the discussion which is looking like all or nothing. You won’t get an argument about the problems caused by ETOH from me…but the topic is the institution of prostitution.
    Here in SoFla it is a sick sport to watch the predators circle the drunk girls at closing time…but they don’t usually start plying their goods till AFTER they’ve been victimized…

    my offer is open…send me your daughters and I’ll set em up reeeeeeeeeeel gooooood……

  7. Woosty,

    If you are so worried about the ‘girls’ why not make alcohol illegal since it is used to vanquish inhibitions and ply sex from thousands of victims every day? We’ll call it the New Prohibition. I think you’d find that that would prevent quite a few unwanted pregnancies, more than a few STD’s, and keep the streets quieter at 2 AM.

  8. “Laws against prostitution create the pimps and organized crime structure in the first place.”

    If you are so worried about the ‘girls’ why not make pimping and exploiting the wages of others illegal? I think you’d find that that would cleanup quite a few industries.

    Tell you what, make prostitution legal and I’ll open a school for the training of sex workers and you can send me your daughters.

  9. Blouise:

    “It’s all been said by the previous posters … legalize it, regulate it, … tax it.”

    If government gets involved it is sure to end.


    ‘Corruption is a manifestation of institutional weakness, poor ethical standards, skewed incentives and insufficient enforcement.

    When corrupt officials slowly drain the resources of a country, its potential to develop socially and to attract foreign investment is diminished, making it incapable of providing basic services to or enforcing the rights of its citizens. ‘
    I have to wonder…of all the ways to look at the problem of prostitution, why is legalization the only one that gets expressed? Who is really being served by legalizing prostitution?

    Why not legalize theft, assault and battery, economic coercion?…it is the same thing.

    and btw, prostitution and its sequelae are not confined to women…

  11. blech blech blech……..

    it doesn’t matter if it is legalized or not.

    The biggest joke is that people in the ‘legal’ industry think it matters.
    The Law has been turned on the weak to protect the powerful for so long that It can no longer masquerade as anything but the Pimp that it is.

    As far as the arguments that legalizing it will help the ‘girls’….every time someone gives money for sex they are showing exactly what they think the ‘girls’ are worth to them.

    Has anyone bothered to look at the statistics regarding these issues?

    Putting money in the middle of a transaction does not change the nature of the transaction.
    Women are NOT chattel.
    And here in this USA that fact has been fought for, won and accepted for a very long time. Or is that another issue that special interests are seeing fit to undermine?
    I’d like to see the so called ‘powers that be’ get their heads out of their asses and turn the law back on those it was meant to press down upon and not those it was meant to protect and liberate. Sex traffic is a crime BECAUSE saner heads understood that it is not about sex at all. Rape and prostitution are about the violent creating and exploiting victims. For power or for money. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ex.
    Taking down this gate of illegality will NOT make the world a safer place for anybody.

    Find a more civilized way to get your ‘needs’ met.
    The rest is just another round of mental masturbation…

  12. boss; you’re our best salesman, i’d like for you to manage my new store in canada.
    salesman; canada! there’s nothing in canada but whores and hockey players
    boss; my wife is from canada
    salesman; what team does she play for?

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