The Supreme Court strikes down Canada’s laws against prostitution
Yup, that’s right. The Supreme Court of Canada issued its long-awaited ruling on the constitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws this morning, and the news is that those laws have been struck down. Prostitution is now, in a sense, completely legal in Canada—but don’t get excited/angry/titillated just yet. The ruling is suspended for a year, meaning the federal government has 12 months to pass new laws before all of the illegal rub-and-tugs that already operate semi-openly in Toronto can start listing themselves in the Yellow Pages under “Brothels.”
The Globe reports that Justice Minister Peter MacKay is already saying that the Conservative government is looking for ways to “ensure the criminal law continues to address the significant harms that flow from prostitution,” so it appears there’s little chance Yonge Street will suddenly turn into Amsterdam a year from now. If any good comes of this ruling, it will likely be something along of the lines of reforms aimed at making sex work safer for those who engage in it. The court’s problem with the old laws—which didn’t outright ban sex for money, but did outlaw several activities associated with prostitution—was that they forbade sex workers from doing things that seem essential to their wellbeing, like hiring bodyguards and working indoors.
Or, it’s possible the feds could try to enact another type of wholesale ban on prostitution, which we’re sure would be really, really effective. If there’s one thing similar bans have taught us, it’s that a few sternly worded laws are all it takes to eradicate vice.