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Sex Work Advocates Make Their Voices Heard While Ontario Considers Harmful New Sex Work Laws
February 9, 2015As Ontario's Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur considers the controversial new sex work laws that have been trampling human rights Canada-wide for more than two months, sex worker advocates insist that AG Meillleur must meet with them and consider the mounting opposition to the misguided laws.
In December 2014, citing grave concerns about the new Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne requested that AG Meilleur review the laws and offer an opinion on whether they violate the Constitution, as many legal experts Canada-wide have already noted. While no firm timeline on a decision has been given, it is thought that AG Meilleurs decision may be imminent.
On February 9, advocates for people in the sex industry issued an open letter to AG Meilleur, restating the widely-held belief that the new sex work laws are unconstitutional and will result in great harms against sex workers. The open letter also asks that Ontario Crown attorneys do not prosecute charges laid under PCEPA, as these are not generally in the public interest. Finally, the letters signatories request that AG Meilleur meet with advocates of people currently in the sex industry to better understand the impacts of these laws and alternatives that have been demonstrated to protect the human rights of people in the sex industry.
Attorney General Meilleurs decision is life-or-death for sex workers, and were now at a critical juncture where we could avoid more harm, said Jean McDonald, Director of Maggies: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. We cannot wait through years of legal wrangling as people in our communities experience more and more violence. We sincerely hope that AG Meilleur will meet with the people actually affected by these laws and recommend halting prosecutions in Ontario courts.
Simply put, were asking the Attorney General to protect the constitutional rights of sex workers. Legal experts, human rights organizations, the cities of Vancouver and Victoria, national and international press, and -- very importantly -- sex workers themselves have come out in opposition to the laws. Police in a number of Canadian cities have said that they wont change their approach to policing sex work, noted Chanelle Gallant, Co-Director of STRUT. If all of these diverse communities clearly recognize the grave problems with these new laws, surely it is unethical to let them be tested out on the backs of real people in the sex industry.
- Chanelle Gallant, Co-Director, STRUT
The letter is accessible here:
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STRUT is a Toronto based sex worker organizing project. We aim to build power and relationships among those most impacted by the criminalization of sex workers lives and create more space for activism within Torontos sex worker communities. Our work and our framework centres Indigenous sovereignty, racial and migrant justice and seeks alternatives to the prison industrial complex. We want to create a world where all people, including people in the sex industry are free, strong, care for each other and get to make decisions about our own lives.
Contact: Chanelle Gallant, Co-Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maggies: The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project is an organization run for and by local sex workers. Our mission is to assist sex workers in our efforts to live and work with safety and dignity. We are founded on the belief that in order to improve our circumstances, sex workers must control our own lives and destinies.
Contact: Jean McDonald, Director, email@example.com 416 964-0150
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