Posts Tagged ‘sex work’

Queer Ontario Submission to the Department of Justice’s Public Consultation re: “Prostitution-Related Offences” in Canada

March 15th, 2014 Comments off

Below is Queer Ontario’s submission to the Department of Justice (Canada), which has been seeking public input on so-called prostitution-related offences in Canada since February 17, 2014.
This public consultation process was set up after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously last year to strike down the laws that prohibit individuals from operating brothels, living on the avails of prostitution [sic], and communicating for the purposes of prostitution [sic], on the basis that they were too broad and effectively endangered the health, safety and lives of sex workers. The Supreme Court gave the Government of Canada one year to develop new laws to regulate prostitution-related offences, should it decide to do so –– and it has.
The Department of Justice’s consultation questionnaire closes on March 17, 2014, and can be filled out at:
A read-only version of Queer Ontario’s submission has been provided below.  It is followed by a downloadable version.

Downloadable version: Queer Ontario Department of Justice Submission re Sex Work 

Queer Ontario Policy Statement on Sex Work

December 17th, 2011 Comments off

In recognition of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (December 17), Queer Ontario has released the following policy statement:

Queer Ontario

Policy Statement on Sex Work

December 16, 2011


On September 28, 2010, Ontario Superior Court Justice Himel struck down three important sections in Canada’s Criminal Code regulating prostitution. This decision effectively decriminalizes consensual adult sex work in Ontario. These sections include prohibitions against keeping a common bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution, and communicating for the purposes of engaging in prostitution. However, in a December 12, 2010 decision, Justice Rosenberg of the Ontario Court of Appeal stayed Justice Himel’s decision, thus continuing the legal enforcement anti-sex work laws. The stay will remain in place until the Ontario Court of Appeal renders its decision sometime in 2012.

A note about terminology: Queer Ontario follows the sex worker activist communities’ usage in denoting the exchange of erotic services for money as ‘sex work’ highlighting its description as a form of labour. ‘Sex work’ commonly denotes a wide range of sexual labour that may or may not include prostitution, such as stripping, phone sex, porn modeling, Internet sex and live-stream nude modeling/acting. The use of the term ‘prostitution’, generally deemed pejorative today, refers largely to legal definitions of the exchange of sexual acts for money.

Why Does Queer Ontario Support Sex Worker Rights?

We would like the public to consider sex workers’ rights and social, legal, political and economic justice for sex workers, as follows:

1.   Queer Ontario supports Justice Himel’s legal decision and the perspectives put forward by sex worker rights’ advocates. They argued that the laws regulating aspects of sex work are contrary to fundamental principles of liberty and security of the person, producing unsafe working conditions for sex workers.

2.   Queer Ontario advocates for the decriminalization of sex work, and for the right for sex workers to organize and conduct their business under the legal rights and obligations of any other legitimate business enterprise. Calls to “legalize” sex work or prostitution often place sex workers under onerous regulations by government authorities, raising questions about whose interests are being prioritized.

3.  Queer Ontario accords dignity and respect to sex workers and their clients and opposes the considerable stigma and sex-negativity that surrounds sex work.

4.  Queer Ontario opposes attempts to demonize and criminalize the consumers of sex work services and supports safe, consensual and autonomous conditions for sex workers to conduct their business.

5.   Queer Ontario calls for an end to all forms of gender-based discrimination that affect people working in the sex trade.

6.   Queer Ontario supports policies, community-based efforts and social justice movements that work to alleviate and eliminate all forms of systemic oppression including class, racial, colonial, age, gender, sexuality and ableist forms of discrimination.

7.   Queer Ontario stands with the 20 organizations who have pulled out of the British Columbia’s Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, complaining of  inadequate levels of funding available for the victims’ side. We urge the B.C. Attorney General to heed these complaints and to ensure appropriate funding, representation and equitable access to the Commission’s legal process for the victims’ families.

8.   All labour, including the sex trade, should be free from coercion and violence. Queer Ontario supports sex workers efforts to work autonomously, and to implement greater health and safety provisions for their work.

9.   Queer Ontario opposes any form of sex work that is the result of direct coercion or manipulation and for distinctions to be made between migrant sex work and the notion of “trafficking” in individuals for the sex trade. The use of “trafficking” prioritizes an overarching criminalization approach and serves to obscure how sex workers encounter labour conditions, poverty, and immigration/citizenship issues as the major barriers to their work and livelihood. Queer Ontario supports an expanded critical dialogue on legal and immigration issues that affect the lives of migrant and undocumented sex workers in Canada.

10.  Queer Ontario advocates for greater social and economic justice for youth working in the sex trade, and recognizes that they must become an active part of the decision- and policy-making process that affects their lives.

11.  Queer Ontario calls for the participation of sex workers in the development of public policies, community-based research initiatives and public education at all levels of government.

12.  Queer Ontario supports publicly funded services for sex workers whose marginalization is compounded by violence, poverty and addiction. Such programs, preferably staffed by sex workers themselves, should be guided by a philosophy of care that places the needs, voices and experiences of sex workers first and which encourages them to take control of their own lives as they see fit.

Prepared by: Robert Teixeira and members of Queer Ontario’s Research & Education Committee

Recommended Links: Organizations and Research


An organization in Toronto run for and by sex workers. Their mission is to assist sex workers in their efforts to live and work with safety and dignity. They are founded on the belief that in order to improve their circumstances, sex workers must control their lives and destinies.

SPOC: Sex Professionals of Canada

SPOC is a political and social group whose main objective is to work towards the decriminalization of sex work through political activism, community building, and public awareness.

Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist (POWER)

POWER is a non-profit, voluntary organization founded in 2008. Membership is open to individuals of all genders who self-identify as former or current sex workers.

Big Susie’s

Big Susie’s is a working group by and for sex workers in Hamilton and the surrounding areas.


A Montreal-based organization run for and by sex workers that links to community partners and public health researchers to promote health, safety and legal advocacy for sex workers.

John Lowman’s Research Page

John Lowman is a professor in the Simon Fraser University School of Criminology and is a recognized Canadian authority on prostitution.

Sex Trade Advocacy and Research (STAR)

Connecting community partners, researchers and students together to promote the health, safety and well-being of sex workers.

Commercial Sex Information Service (CSIS)

A clearinghouse of information related to laws, sexual health, commercial sex and culture.

Categories: Policy Tags: ,

Queer Ontario Urges Harper to Reverse New Regulations to Bawdy House Laws

August 6th, 2010 Comments off

Queer Ontario is fundamentally opposed to the regulatory changes to the bawdyhouse laws that were secretly passed by the Conservative government on July 13, 2010, and the undemocratic process that was used to pass them.

By designating bawdyhouses as ‘criminal organizations’ and by designating their operation as a ‘serious offence’ under the law, the Harper government has once again demonstrated that it is incapable of passing provisions that are publicly accountable. In advancing their tough-on-crime agenda above any nuanced understanding of organized crime in Canada; above any consideration for the lived realities of sex professionals; and above polls demonstrating the statistical drop in crime and the low priority crime-fighting has among Canadians, the Conservative government has made yet another unwarranted decision. Unfortunately, these measures are only exacerbated by the fact that the regulation was passed behind closed doors, without any opportunity for informed debate from either fellow MPs or the stakeholders who were to be affected by these amendments.
Read more…

Categories: Releases Tags: , , ,