Thursday September 30, 2010

Pro-Family Groups Oppose Canadian Prostitution Ruling

By Patrick B. Craine

TORONTO, Ontario, September 30, 2010 ( – Pro-family groups are decrying Tuesday’s Ontario court decision that struck down Canada’s prostitution laws, warning that the ruling empowers pimps and human traffickers and threatens to usher in a Canadian sex tourism industry.

“The decision reinforces the notion that sex is not an intimate and loving act but instead a commodity that can be bought and sold at will,” said Ruth Ross, executive director and general legal counsel for the Christian Legal Fellowship.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel ruled Tuesday that Canada’s prostitution provisions violate women’s Charter rights to freedom of expression and security of the person. Canada’s Criminal Code prohibits communicating for the purpose of prostitution, keeping a common bawdy house, and living on the avails of prostitution.

The case, Bedford v. Canada, was brought by three Toronto prostitutes, calling themselves “sex-trade workers.” There were three interveners – the Christian Legal Fellowship, REAL Women of Canada, and the Catholic Civil Rights League.

Ross warned that the decision “has the potential to create a system that undermines the security of all Canadians.”

She said that “prostitution and human trafficking are closely linked,” and noted that the ruling empowers pimps and will make it harder for police “to identify and protect those who have been forced into prostitution.”

Brian Rushfeldt, president of Canada Family Action, said the ruling “ought to make men happy.” “At least men who use and abuse women for sex and men who live off selling women for sexual use by perverts,” he added.

“The vast majority of street prostitutes are desperate drug addicts who are unlikely to screen their johns or set up offices,” said Rushfeldt. “Removing consequences for men who prey on vulnerable women will make it easier for them to commit acts of violence on these women.”

REAL Women said that Justice Himel “has used the vague wording in the Charter of Rights as a tool to interpret a grave national social policy according to her ideology, rather than on sound facts and legal principle.”

“Ideology should not supplant common sense on a matter which degrades and exploits individuals who need assistance to get out of the horrendous activity of prostitution by protective laws,” they added.

4MyCanada, a political action group for Christian youth, warned that Canada will end up as a global sex tourism site comparable to Amsterdam if the ruling is allowed to stand. “We are sure most of us would say that this is not our vision for Canada,” they note.

Joanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League, said the decision usurped the role of Parliament, which is “the appropriate forum for social issues with this level of complexity.”

“By removing what safeguards exist against the exploitation that prostitution represents, this decision will make it much more difficult to prosecute pimps, or offer help to those who want to leave the life,” said Joanne McGarry, League executive director.

McGarry said the League is “most concerned about the educational effect of this decision.” “A single judge has determined that what was previously understood to be illegal is no longer illegal, at least in Ontario,” she said. “Are we prepared as a society for the unintended consequences of what may now follow?”

The Attorneys General of Canada and Ontario announced Wednesday that they will appeal, and seek a stay on the ruling until their appeal is heard.

See related coverage:

Canadian Gvmt to Appeal Prostitution Ruling

Canadian Laws Restricting Prostitution ‘Unconstitutional’: Ontario Court

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