The Canadian government presented Canada's new sex work laws today. THEY ARE REALLY BAD. REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BAD.

The bill has just been presented and is not effective yet, but the Conservatives have a majority and thus far have pushed through every bill that they wanted to. This bill is INCREDIBLY dangerous and unconstitutional, but it is expected to pass unless some miracle happens.

In case you missed it, here is some background on how/why we needed new laws.

The new laws are REALLY BAD - can I say that enough?!

Previously, three laws were struck down as being unconstitutional because they endangered the lives of sex workers. These three laws prohibited communicating for the purposes of prostitution (i.e. solicitation), brothels, and 'living on the avails' which effectively means sex workers can't hire bodyguards, drivers, etc. without breaking the law. They also could not live with someone else, because that person is 'living on the avails' if they, say, split the rent.

The new laws?



1) For the first time ever in Canada, purchasing sex is criminalized.

2) Communicating for the purposes of selling sex anywhere that children could 'reasonably be expected to be present' is re-criminalized. This includes malls and "even neighbourhoods", and MacKay would not answer when a reporter kept asking him if this counts at night-time when children could reasonably be expected to be asleep. Further, if you have children and work in your own home, you could be charged under this.


BUT WAIT. THERE'S MORE TO THAT ONE. When asked to explain it, MacKay went on this AWFUL explanation that if two underage sex workers were 'selling sex' near each other, THEY WOULD BE ARRESTED FOR SELLING IN THE PRESENCE OF A MINOR.



3) ADVERTISING IS CRIMINALIZED. Advertising in media, online, or in print. He verbally said the 'advertising of others' but when asked to explain the 'others' part, he said any advertising that is 'public' would be included. What kind of advertising isn't public?!


4) It's illegal to 'benefit materially' from the sale of services. While the target is 'pimps and exploiters', that logic is generally what prevented sex workers from hiring drivers or working for an escort company, which is NOT always an exploitative arrangement.

5) [This is an ETA] They replaced the definition of 'bawdy-house' to be EVEN MORE BROAD. The definition of common bawdy-house now means "for the practice of indecency, a place that is kept or occupied or resorted to by one or more persons". So now literally anywhere indoors where 'indecency' is practiced is now a common bawdy-house. Between that and the advertising stuff they have essentially criminalized indoor sex work, including independent sex workers, which previously was really off the radar for police, and is considered THE SAFEST form of sex work.


There is more, and I hope that it is covered well in something online soon. This information is from watching the press conference on CPAC2 (it might still be up, if you're interested) and sex workers' rights advocates on my Facebook who are working media for this thing.

This is horrifying, and dangerous, and it is going to be bad, bad news for Canada if this comes into effect. It is COMPLETELY unconstitutional, and brings back parts that were flat-out deemed unconstitutional before, and will not survive a court challenge. But the Canada v. Bedford case took YEARS to go through all levels of appeal and finally strike down the laws, and then the gov't was given a full year to come back with a response before the laws would actually disappear. So this WILL hurt people. This might kill people.


Some tweets on the topic - highly recommend following these people/groups if you are interested in following this. I can't embed these for some reason, and I'm angry, but here ya go. The bill itself is here.

MacKay's "Canadian" response to sexwork is to make it one of the worst & dangerous on the planet. #BillC36 #CdaPoli


โ€” After Bedford (@AfterBedford) June 4, 2014

Full title of #BillC36: Protection of Communities & Exploited Persons Act says a whole lot. 'sexworkers are mindless & exploited nuisances'


โ€” After Bedford (@AfterBedford) June 4, 2014

BACKGROUNDER:#Billc36 -"Protection of Communities & Exploited Persons Acti" in easy to understand language - #CdnPoli


โ€” Sex Work Law Reform (@CDNSWAlliance) June 4, 2014

Cdn govt has taken elements of harmful Nordic model on #sexwork and added more that's even worse. #unbelievable



So we were preparing for the worst, but not their worst. I feel deep shame for this government. #sexwork #cdnpoli


โ€” Marina Tronin (@MarinaTronin) June 4, 2014