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Ontario’s highest court strikes many of the laws that prohibit prostitution essentially making it legal to run a brothel

The landmark decision handed out by the Court of Appeal for Ontario in Canada v. Bedford has essentially legalized brothels or “bawdy houses” while exploitation of prostitutes by pimps remain illegal. The highly controversial decision was challenged because a lack of Constitutional protection existed for sex trade workers.

The legal irregularity was that although prostitution was legal in Canada, many of the activities surrounding prostitution were illegal, which created confusion and an unsafe working environment for prostitutes. Activities like running a brothel or bawdy house, communicating for the purpose of prostitution and living off the avails of prostitution were all illegal.

These illegal activities have either been eradicated or limited by this landmark decision. The ruling in Canada v. Bedford 2012 ONCA 186, has changed the landscape of these laws to enable prostitutes to work in brothels, hire bodyguards and hire drivers. The Court’s ruling provides prostitutes with the same level of Constitutional protection as others engaged in dangerous activities and in turn erodes the social stigma that is often attached to this line of work.

The federal government has appealed this decision and it is now for the highest court in the land to decide the fate of prostitutes and the protections they will be afforded under the Constitution.

Originally posted Saturday, 28 April 2012

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