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Friday, June 20, 2014; 3:15 pm to 4:30 pm

Closing Plenary: Sex Workers and Their Families: What They Need From Us In the Face of the Recent Supreme Court Decision

Amy Lebovitch, Executive Director, Sex Professionals of Canada and Valerie Scott, Legal Co-ordinator, Sex Professionals of Canada

With its ruling on December 20th, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada made its unanimous nine to zero ruling, striking down all three of the prostitution laws, deeming them unconstitutional. In doing so, The Supreme Court acknowledged that sex workers are entitled to safety and that the laws which were stuck down prevented sex workers from taking measures to protect themselves.

We owe this in large part to the Bedford, Lebovitch & Scott landmark challenge to Canada’s prostitution laws. The Conference recognizes the courage and dedication of these women, and the many sex workers, sex work advocates and allies in bringing Canada to this point in history with their legal and advocacy efforts.

We close this year’s conference by hearing from the women who took these laws to task. In the spirit of affirmation, action and advocacy, come hear about the potential impact of this decision on sex workers and their families, and listen to what they need us to do to honor their work, struggles, and safety.

Learn more about issues surrounding the ruling, the journey to it, the challenges ahead, and the government’s possible response. Presenters will share their insights about their different families, challenges they and their families face, and examples of what advocacy looks like.

In dialogue with the audience, presenters will address: their definitions of family; supporting sex worker occupational health and safety; ending violence against sex workers; affirming sex work as a socially beneficial occupation; access to safety, income, and healthcare; examples of calls to action, like those from organizations such as Sex Professionals of Canada and Maggie’s in response to the federal government’s “Public Consultation on Prostitution-Related Offences in Canada”; and how we can create environments where they and their families can thrive and receive respectful, helpful and equitable service.