Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled to overturn the country’s anti-prostitution laws.
It is a victory for the group of former and current sex trade workers who brought the case. They argued that the laws were unconstitutional because they violated prostitutes’ safety.
It is not technically a crime to sell sex for money in Canada. Under the anti-prostitution laws, however, it is illegal to keep a brothel, solicit clients in public or live off the proceeds of prostitution.
The Supreme Court unanimously voted to strike down the anti-prostitution laws, calling them “grossly disproportionate.”
The court has given parliament a year to draft new legislation. Until then, the current the laws will remain in force.
Anti-prostitution campaigners, such as Kim Pate of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, condemned the ruling.
Pate said: “It’s a sad day that we’ve now had confirmed that it’s okay to buy and sell women and girls in this country.”
Janine Benedet at the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution told reporters: “We really need to introduce a law that will follow the example of France most recently, or that of Sweden, that will actually criminalise the purchase of sex and that will also criminalise pimping.”