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CCRL 'disappointed' by Ontario prostitution ruling

March 26, 2012
On a recent episode of Catholic Focus, we tackled the issue of prostitution and the ongoing legal challenge to Ontario’s laws related to the sex trade. Today, a Court of Appeal reaffirmed parts of Justice Susan Himel’s controversial 2010 ruling that struck down three of those laws.
In summary, the court agreed with Justice Himel that the prohibitions against operating a “common bawdy house” and against “living off the avails” of prostitution were unconstitutional. The Crown may appeal, though the House of Commons may also redraft the laws in a manner that would survive a court challenge. The third law in question — communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution — was declared to be lawful, and thus remains in force.
The Catholic Civil Rights League, an intervenor in the case, expressed disappointment with the ruling. Executive director Joanne McGarry, who appears in our Catholic Focus episode, was pleased that at least one of the three laws in question will stand. However, in a statement released today, she reiterates the CCRL’s position that the “prohibition on keeping a bawdy house and living on the avails are of some assistance in preventing the exploitation of a vulnerable population.”
The CCRL hopes that the Minister of Justice will propose a new legal solution, such as one that is focused on prosecuting clients of prostitution.
Meanwhile, one of the three sex worker advocates behind the challenge could soon profit from the ruling. The Toronto Star reports that Valerie Scott is considering opening her own brothel.
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