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The Federal Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments in Toronto on Tuesday in a bid to determine if the three parts of the Liberal government’s sex work legislation—Section 83(1), 83(3), and 83(4)—are unconstitutional.
Advocates for sex workers argue that by prohibiting clients from arranging and paying for sexual activities online with clients of any gender, and prohibiting escort agencies from negotiating “cash-only” deals, the law effectively makes prostitutes “prostitutes.”
Also, instead of restricting the purchase of such activities in health clubs, brothels, and traditional strip clubs—as is the case under those laws—the appeal court has argued that soliciting for sex through websites like Backpage is dangerous, and that advertising them in health clubs constitutes a selling of sex.
In a bid to prevent arrest, and ultimately stay the stripping of the law from going into effect, the sex industry’s largest organization, the Canadian Association of Professional Offenders and Prostitutes, claims the Liberals are “actively dismantling” laws that protect the lives of sex workers.
Ultimately, groups such as Vancouver sex worker Margarita Marfurt assert that the NDP, Liberal governments, and Conservative Opposition have failed to protect their own, allowing their promises to focus on legislation that is essentially intended to shut the only industry in Canada that is regulated, except in terms of the wrong way.
Canada is now the only country in the world that criminalizes working as a sex worker while allowing purchasers to fleece women and men of their bodies, their livelihoods, and their autonomy.
The Liberals’ attempt to wedge Canada into a trend towards criminalizing all commercial sex transactions is backfiring.
The Liberals are scrambling to find a way out of their public relations and political disaster—one that begs the question: where were they when it needed to be done?
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