If prostitution is against the law, then how can graphic adult ads in the back of Toronto’s alt-weeklies be legal?
If prostitution is against the law, then how can graphic adult ads in the back of Toronto’s alt-weeklies be legal?—Miriam LaLonde, St. Lawrence Market
The funny thing about our prostitution law is that prostitution itself isn’t illegal in Canada: the Criminal Code doesn’t explicitly say consenting adults can’t have sex for money. What is illegal, however, is running a bawdy house, such as a brothel. So is advertising services in a public place, which obviously includes hookers showing some leg on a street corner. Whether this also refers to advertising in the back pages of a widely read magazine is not as clear, and laying charges is up to the discretion of the police. In 1990, NOW magazine was charged with communicating for the purposes of prostitution. There were suspicions that it was politically motivated, as NOW was a frequent critic of the police. But the charges were dropped shortly after, and the adult ads have been with us ever since. And unless Stephen Harper decides to decriminalize the world’s oldest profession, the situation is unlikely to become less murky.