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Canadian Supreme Court strikes down anti-prostitution laws

Dec. 20, 2013 at 11:03 AM

OTTAWA, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Canada's Supreme Court has unanimously struck down anti-prostitution laws that sex workers said inhibited their safety and security.

The court ruled that the laws were overly broad, and gave Parliament one year to craft new legislation if it wishes to do so, CBC reported Friday.

Three sex workers, Terry-Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott, launched the lawsuit in 2009 against the laws, which forbade them from working in a brothel or a private home.

They were also prohibited from hiring bodyguards or drivers, and could cannot communicate with prospective clients on public streets.

"You can't have a government that says you have a legal right to do this, but we will take away all safe routes of achieving that result. ... It goes against the rule of law, which is supposed to enhance our security, not deprive us of security," Alan Young, one of the attorneys representing the sex workers, told the CBC.

In 2012, the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down the brothel house prohibition, but upheld the law that prohibits communicating in public.

The governments of Ontario and Canada appealed ruling in the Supreme Court.

In court filings, the government said the practice is inherently risky -- even in private homes or bawdy houses.

The government also expressed concern about normalizing prostitution and allowing the workers to be legitimized, the CBC reported.

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