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Canada's high court: Change prostitution laws

By Ashley Fantz, CNN
December 21, 2013 -- Updated 0123 GMT (0923 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Canada's Supreme Court justices voted unanimously
  • Ruling pertains to prohibitions on brothels, profiting from the act of prostitution or talking about it
  • Canadian lawmakers have one year to redraft laws, justice said

(CNN) -- Canada's Supreme Court has struck down the country's laws about prostitution.

While selling sex for money isn't illegal in Canada, until Friday's 9-0 ruling, three specific laws had made it difficult for prostitutes to more safely and securely engage in sex work.

One of the laws prohibited anyone from operating a brothel. Another forbade people from earning a living working for a prostitute, such as being a driver, bookkeeper or bodyguard. Another law reportedly made it illegal to communicate in public about acts of prostitution.

On Friday, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said that the court's decision would be "suspended for one year" until Parliament amends the laws.

McLachlin said the time should be allotted because "the regulation of prostitution is a complex and delicate matter."

According to the Toronto Star, if 12 months from now the federal government has not redrafted legislation, then prostitutes will be allowed to legally work, hire drivers, bodyguards and accountants, and screen their clients.

The law's purpose "is to target pimps and the parasitic, exploitative conduct in which they engage," the court said Friday.

"The law, however, punishes everyone who lives on the avails of prostitution without distinguishing between those who exploit prostitutes and those who could increase the safety and security of prostitutes, for example, legitimate drivers, managers, or bodyguards. .. The living on the avails provision is consequently overbroad."

On another matter, the law on prohibiting soliciting was designed "not to eliminate street prostitution for its own sake, but to take prostitution off the streets and out of public view in order to prevent the nuisances that street prostitution can cause," the high court found.

CNN affiliate CBC News, citing a criminologist, said Parliament could criminalize the sale or purchase of sex and choose to regulate where prostitution can occur.

Parliament also could do nothing, in which case the provinces and municipalities would likely develop their own provisions, CBC News said.

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