Apr 4, 2012
UPDATES APRIL 26 2012
On Monday March 26, judges of the Ontario court of appeal gave a decision about laws affecting prostitution. They ruled that some laws had to stay and some had to go. Here is some info for you on what will change for your work.
1. “Communicating For The Purposes of Prostitution” is still illegal. So for example, if you connect with your potential clients on the streets/outdoors, that could still get you arrested. We expect police street sweeps to continue and you face all the same legal risks – take all the same legal protections that you always do to avoid law enforcement.
2. “Committing an Indecent Act” is still illegal. If you see your clients anywhere outdoors (park, alley) or in their car, you could still get busted. Again, nothing has changed so take the same precautions you normally do.
3. The law against “Living off the Avails of Prostitution” was modified and might be gone some day--but is still in place for now. The meaning of this law was changed so that you could legally hire people to help you run your business. E.g. a driver, a receptionist or someone to be your safe person while you see clients. It also means that your partner/spouse, roommates, children and other personal relationships will *probably* not be considered criminal anymore. We can only say "probably" because “Living Off the Avails” will still be considered illegal if these relationships are considered "exploitative"--but the judges didn't define "exploitation" so we don't really know what that means or how it will be interpreted. For now though the law is still in place and nothing has changed.
4. The law against “Operating a Common Bawdy House” was struck down and might be gone in one year (March 2013). This means that if you see your clients indoors, in your own home or a hotel, this may become legal in a year. And we may see legal brothels. But the changes won’t come into effect for at least a year and in the meantime, the judges demanded that the government come up with a new way to regulate sex workers who work inside (hotels, outcalls, their own home etc). For now though, unfortunately, nothing has changed and working out of your own home, working indoors with someone else or in any one place regularly is still illegal. The only legal way to work remains by doing outcalls or moving from hotel room to hotel room.
5. The next step is the Supreme Court of Canada! The sex workers in this case are continuing the fight to get the law against Communicating For The Purposes of Prostitution struck down so that street workers can work without fear of arrest. This process is slow so we won’t have a decision on that for a few years.
For more info or to join us in our fight to live and work with safety and dignity, contact Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. Maggie’s is by and for current and former sex workers of all genders in any part of the sex industry or sex trade.
298A Gerrard Street East | www.maggiestoronto.ca | 416-964-0150