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Ontario Brothels Legalized for 'Safety' of Women

Pimping Also Protected by Canadian Charter of Rights, Court Rules

Ontario Brothels Legalized for 'Safety' of Women

A Canadian court released its decision on a landmark 2010 ruling Monday, upholding the legalization of brothels and pimping in the province of Ontario, saying the law helps to ensure the safety of women involved in the country's already legal prostitution industry. 

The Ontario Court of Appeal made its decision to uphold the 2010 ruling by Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel, which held that the criminalization of brothels and "non-exploitative" commercial relationships between prostitutes and pimps was "unconstitutional."

The court reasoned on Monday that its decided to uphold the controversial 2010 decision because it would make prostitution safer for those who are employed in the notoriously dangerous sex industry.

Although prostitution is legal in Canada, several laws restrict the operations of bawdy-houses, or brothels, and prohibit anyone including pimps from "living on the avails of prostitution" or from "profiting off another's prostitution."

The Ontario court dismissed the legality of these laws, arguing that a ban on brothels would "prevent prostitutes from taking the basic safety precaution of moving indoors to locations under their control," the court wrote in its decision.

"We also hold that the prohibition on living on the avails of prostitution infringes s. 7 of the Charter (the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) to the extent that it criminalizes non-exploitative commercial relationships between prostitutes and other people," the court said.

Christian groups in the country have appealed to the Canadian government over the case asking for their leaders to establish laws that "uphold the dignity and value of all Canadian women," according to Julia Beazley of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Beazley recently spoke at a Canadian church arguing that the government must address the issue of prostitution as it is not the location that endangers sex industry workers "it is the violent johns, pimps and traffickers who prey on them," according to

The Canadian government can rewrite the law within a year, according to Monday's decision.

"Prostitution is a controversial topic, one that provokes heated and heartfelt debate about morality, equality, personal autonomy and pubic safety," the court added.

"It is not the court's role to engage in that debate. Our role is to decide whether or not the challenged laws accord with the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. It is up to Parliament to respond with new legislation."

The controversial decision is likely be appealed to the Canadian Supreme Court.


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