Prostitution laws protect dignity and equality says lawyer in Ontario

The presence of bawdy houses that often parade women in a line up so clients can have their pick conflicts with values of human dignity and equality, a lawyer defending Canada’s prostitution laws said on Tuesday.

Speaking for the Attorney General of Ontario, Christine Bartlett-Hughes said banning brothels is parliament’s way of curtailing the commodification of women and children through an activity it deems harmful. Laws against public solicitation of sex deal with nuisance but also guard against normalizing prostitution, Ms. Bartlett-Hughes told an Ontario Superior Court judge on Tuesday.

Three women – a dominatrix, a former sex trade worker and a working prostitute – say provisions of Canada’s prostitution laws infringe on their right to security by preventing them from taking steps they say can make work safer. The challenged laws make it illegal to run or work in a bawdy house, illegal to communicate for the purposes of prostitution and to live off the avails of prostitution.

Derek Bell, a lawyer for Christian groups opposing the application, said that the laws were designed to protect public morals, and that remains relevant today. Mr. Bell said several criminal laws deal with morals, including bestiality, voyeurism and public nudity. “No where does it say that moral views are irrelevant,” he said of earlier court decisions. Alan Young, lawyer for the applicants, said he argued morality has a limited role in a secular society, but there are core moral values that parliament is authorized to protect, which is why cannibalism and bestiality are outlawed.

See also:
* In a powerful submission to a Toronto judge responsible for deciding the constitutionality of prostitution laws, Crown counsel Shelley Hallett said that most hookers run a gantlet of violent customers, manipulative pimps and disease.
* Mr. Young ended his case by arguing again that Justice Susan Himel, of theSuperior Court of Justice of Ontario, should strike out on constitutional grounds a trio of laws that ban communicating for the purpose of prostitution, living off the avails and bawdy houses, as they relate toprostitution.


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