Canada’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that the criminal laws against prostitution are unconstitutional and endanger the welfare of sex workers, and gave the Canadian legislature one year to draft legislation that is less “grossly disproportionate.”
The ruling states that the current criminal code, which bans brothels, living off prostitution income and communicating for the purpose of prostitution, will stay in effect for 12 months until the legislature can come up with new laws, the Toronto Star reports. If the legislature fails to do so, then prostitution will become fully legal in Canada.
All nine justices on the Canadian Supreme Court agreed that the current laws violated the fundamental rights of sex workers. “It is not a crime in Canada to sell sex for money,” wrote Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin, but the current laws impose unnecessary and even dangerous restrictions on the lives of prostitutes.
“The prohibitions at issue do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate,” she wrote. “They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky — but legal — activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks.”
The court ruled that the ban against brothels threatened the welfare of the sex workers, since it prevents them from having a “regular clientele” or “indoor safeguards like receptionists, assistants, bodyguards and audio room monitoring.”