Citing safety and public health considerations the Supreme Court of Canada (yes, they all dress like Santa Claus) has struck down the nation’s ban on prostitution.
“Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes,” Canada’s chief justice Beverley McLachlin wrote for a unanimous court. “The prohibitions all heighten the risks. . . . They do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate. They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky – but legal – activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks.”
The ruling was issued on a suspended basis for one year – giving the Canadian legislature time to amend the country’s laws.
McLachlin explicitly rejected arguments by the Canadian government that prostitutes voluntarily engage in risky behavior.
“While some prostitutes may fit the description of persons who freely choose (or at one time chose) to engage in the risky economic activity of prostitution, many prostitutes have no meaningful choice but to do so,” she wrote.
This website has repeatedly argued in favor of the decriminalization of prostitution.
“The most important reason we can think of to legalize prostitution is that its ongoing criminalization represents an encroachment on individual liberty,” we wrote last fall. “Simply put: If a man or woman wishes to rent out his or her body for a specific period of time – it should be their right to do that. Government should not pass laws precluding them from such actions.”
We also believe decriminalization would raise employment and income levels while affording better health and human rights protections for women.
What do you think? Should prostitution be legalized? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …