OTTAWA – A BC sex worker group has won the right to challenge the constitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday morning that the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society can be granted public interest standing to challenge the Criminal Code provisions dealing with adult prostitution.
The federal government had argued the group, along with retired sex worker Sheryl Kiselbach, didn’t have the right to challenge the laws because they weren’t facing prostitution charges.
Today’s ruling is quite technical – it was about whether or not those sex workers could challenge the constitutionality of the Criminal Code provisions having to do with adult prostitution without waiting to be charged with anything. Those same Criminal Code provisions have also been challenged in Ontario; in March the Court of Appeal in the province ruled they were unconstitutional, and this ruling is now before the Supreme Court. We are therefore likely to see a final decision by the highest court on these Criminal Code provisions sometime in the next year.