Toronto Judge Susan Himel Strikes Down Canada's Prostitution Laws
Ontario Court Of Appeals Strikes Down Key Provisions of Prostitution Law In Canada - Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson Considering Appeal
Susan Himel a Toronto judge with the Ontario Court of Appeal has effectively decriminalized prostitution in Ontario if not the rest of the country with a ruling Tuesday concerning Canada's prostitution laws.
The court declared unconstitutional portions of the law banning brothels and soliciting for prostitution.
Three Toronto women launched the legal challenge in October 2009, arguing that prohibiting solicitation endangers prostitutes by forcing them to seek customers on street corners.
They called for the decriminalization of prostitution and for the right to open brothels to provide a safer environment for prostitutes.
The court agreed.
"By increasing the risk of harm to street prostitutes, the communicating law is simply too high a price to pay for the alleviation of social nuisance," Superior Court Judge Susan Himel said in the decision.
"I find that the danger faced by prostitutes greatly outweighs any harm which may be faced by the public."
However, Judge Himel imposed a 30 day stay on the decision providing time for crown prosecutors, lawyers, and other interested parties an opportunity to weigh in.
Himel said she is not persuaded that striking down the provisions without enacting something in its place would pose a danger to the public, as the federal government argued.
“I am mindful of the fact that legislating in response to prostitution raises difficult, contentious and serious policy issues and that it is for Parliament to fashion corrective legislation,” wrote Himel.
“This is wonderful,” dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford told reporters at the University Ave. courthouse.
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says the federal government is seriously considering an appeal.