Updates to the site as of December 16, 2014

Are you a sex worker with questions about the news laws and their effects on your work and life?

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For immediate release

ADVOCATES CALL ON PROVINCIAL LEADERS TO RESIST DEADLY LAW, END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS

TORONTO, December 17, 2014 — Today, on the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, sex workers and their allies want to send a strong message to Canada’s provincial leaders: Reject the federal government’s toxic new law governing sex work. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has already expressed her “grave concern” that the law, brought into force December 6th, will not make sex workers any safer, and the province’s Attorney-General is assessing its constitutional validity.

Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), Maggie’s - Toronto Sex Workers' Action Project, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, COUNTERfit Women’s Harm Reduction Program (South Riverdale Community Health Centre), and the publishers of Toronto weekly paper NOW Magazine are urging other premiers to follow suit and are calling on provincial attorneys-general not to enforce the deadly new law.

“This is an important day for us to remember the appalling violence suffered by our colleagues, both internationally and here in Canada,” said Valerie Scott, legal coordinator of SPOC. “Sex workers have been abandoned by their own federal government with this new law. If our leaders truly care about making sex workers safer, they will stop criminalizing our work, our workplaces and our clients.”

“In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that several former provisions on prostitution in the Criminal Code were unconstitutional because of the harms they cause to the safety and lives of women, men and trans people who do sex work,” said Richard Elliott, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. “But instead of listening to sex workers and honouring the Supreme Court’s ruling, the federal government has pushed through a law that largely replicates the same harms and even adds new sweeping criminal prohibitions. We call upon provincial attorneys-general not to be complicit in this legislative violence against sex workers, and today some 190 legal experts Canada-wide have told Ontario’s Premier and Attorney-General that they, too, are deeply concerned that this misguided new law will trample the human rights of sex workers.”

“Sex workers are currently living in constant uncertainty, and our lives, safety and security are left in the hands of the government. We are terrified and exhausted from the daily fears of arrest and constant deaths in our community,” said Arlene Jane Pitts, coordinator of the COUNTERfit Women’s Harm Reduction Program. “I am deeply afraid
of the violence that will continue to be reinforced through this new law that will ultimately cost the lives of those we love.”

“Canada has suffered an epidemic of violence against sex workers,” said Jean McDonald, executive director of Maggie’s Toronto. “Premier Wynne, Attorney-General Meilleur and their provincial counterparts need to demonstrate their commitment to ending this epidemic. Given the serious harms at stake, they must act to ensure that prosecutions are not pursued while the constitutionality of the new law is in question.”

In the meantime, sex workers must be able to pursue their livelihood. The new law aims to silence sex workers by restricting their ability to advertise their services online or in print. But the publishers of NOW Magazine in Toronto have announced that the free weekly magazine will continue to allow advertising from independent sex workers. “We have always refused to discriminate against sex work and sex workers,” said editor/CEO Alice Klein. “Advertising offers a much safer and more secure way to connect and do business with clients. The law’s provisions around advertising actually encourage further stigmatization and violence against sex workers.”
To view the open letter from legal experts in Canada to Premier Wynne, and its 190 signatories, please www.aidslaw.ca/sexwork.

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For more information please contact:
Janet Butler-McPhee
Director of Communications
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
jbutler@aidslaw.ca
Work: 416-595-1666 ext. 228
Cell: 647-295-0861



December 6, 2014

With regret we report that Bill C-36 is now in full force and effect. C-36 is the Harper administration’s attempt to legislate an entire community out of existence. C-36 will promote violence against sex workers. Many of us explained how this will occur, in detail, at the Parliamentary and Senate committee hearings on bill C-36. The new laws will force us to work secretively, independent of each other and untraceably. Violence against us is acceptable to the Harper government, as they simply don’t care how we cease to exist, just that we do.

Know this: Sex workers are resilient. The majority of us will continue to work. Make no mistake; the ever-growing Canadian sex worker rights movement will fight this latest legal moralism. We have done it before, and we will do it again.

~SPOC

PLEASE CLICK HERE for the letter signed by over 60 AGENCIES AND ORGANIZATIONS, which calls for the non-enforcement of c-36 and full decriminalization of sex work!


(June 28, 2014 at Dyke March, Toronto)

November 4, 2014: With sadness we inform you that Bill C-36, the anti-sex work laws, passed third reading in the Senate on November 4, 2014, with no amendments. It recieved Royal Assent on November 6, 2014, and will become law across the country in 30 days.

This new set of laws will ensure violence against us. Keeping criminalization in place will continue the stigma and social exclusion of sex workers.

Bringing forth the Bedford, Lebovitch, Scott challenge was right!

What the Supreme Court of Canada did was just!

What the Harper government is doing is a travesty!

Know this: we live to fight another day! In all of human history, no government, no army, no religion has ever stopped sex work, nor will they be able to stop what is now a global sex workers rights movement. This isn’t over!

(Click here for the entire Bill C-36)



Unanimous Decision!

All Three Laws Struck Down!!

We are ecstatic to hear The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision today!!
With its ruling, the court has recognized the need for sex workersʼ safety and acknowledging our work as labour.

Sex Professionals of Canada holds that sex workers are part of the community and should be allowed the safety, liberty, respect and inclusion guaranteed to all. The laws against bawdy houses, living on the avails, and communication, forced us to work in dangerous conditions and prevented us from conducting our business like other workers. With this ruling, across Canada, we finally have an end to the criminalization of sex work!

The Court has placed a stay on the laws for one-year. There is still more to come. Parliament and municipalities can pass laws which can continue to harm us. It is imperative that sex workers are at the forefront of anything being purposed, as we are the true experts in our lives and work.

~Sex Professionals of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada's decision can be found HERE


December 17, 2013, International Day to end Violence Against Sex Workers. Click HERE for SPOC's Press release in PDF.



Nadine Gurczenski's family is seeking information on her murder (1999). They are working with a documentary film crew.

Please click HERE to view the poster.


The Bedford, Lebovitch & Scott landmark challenge to Canada's prostitution laws.

{Each decision can be found by clicking on the word decision at each court level}

Previous court decisions on our challenge

First Level

Ontario Superior Court. Decision released:  September 28, 2010

Second Level

Court of Appeal for Ontario. Decision released: March 26, 2012

Third and Final Level

Supreme Court of Canada, heard this case Thursday, June 13, 2013

Webcast of proceedings at the Supreme Court is archieved HERE

The Court heard the Federal government and the AG of Ontario's appeal as well as our cross appeal. We are seeking invalidation of communicating section 213(1)(c) and the Ontario court of appeal rewrite of living on the avails 212(1)(j).

Final Decision

December 20, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada made its unanimous nine to zero ruling in our favour, striking down all three of the prostitution laws, deeming them unconstitutional. Decision can be found HERE


To view the laws in their entirety, and the subsections we are challenging, click HERE.

Media and Public Awareness

SPOC members are available for conversations & interviews with media, students and the general public.

Our contact information can be found HERE

We are available to speak at universities, colleges and conferences. Some topics we can cover; Stigma, Myths of Sex Work(ers), What is Sex Work? Sex work under decriminalization, legalization, criminalization and the nordic model (asymmetrical decriminalization) & much more!

We are also available for interviews regarding our constitutional challenge to the Canadian Criminal Code (CCC) sections, 210 (bawdy house), 212(1)(j) (living on the avails) and 213(1)(c) (communicating for the purpose of prostitution)

We are happy to provide you with:

  • The reasons why we are challenging the above laws.

  • How these laws have affected sex workers.

  • How these sections of the CCC have directly resulted in the robberies, beatings, rapes and murders of our colleagues.

  • Analysis of this challenge.


Mission & Principles

1. SPOC is a volunteer run activist network that engages in advocacy and education.

2. SPOC operates on the principle that all forms of consensual adult sex work are valid occupations.

3. SPOC maintains that sex workers have the capacity for choice and our experiences are diverse.

4. SPOC maintains that sex workers deserve labour rights, and occupational health and safety standards defined by sex workers themselves.

5. SPOC members and associates oppose those who seek to ‘rescue’ sex workers using force or coercive measures including court imposed re-education/exit programs, jails or camps.

We stand for the decriminalization of all forms of sex work in Canada. We oppose legalization because it is always exploitive toward sex workers.

Membership

If you are a current or former sex worker, or an associate interested working toward the decriminalization of sex work while having fun and connecting with others, please do not hesitate to contact us. We encourage membership from all communities, sexual orientations and genders.

Donations

As an entirely volunteer sex worker run organization, we rely on the generous support of our community and supporters. SPOC gratefully accepts donations to assist us in our work.

Donations can be made via Pay Pal by clicking the button below

or by cheque/money order payable to:

Sex Professionals of Canada P.O. Box # 305, 245 Gerrard St. East Toronto, Ontario M5A-2G1