Sex Work

Overview

In Canada and many other countries, sex workers face extreme human rights abuses. Laws and their enforcement often contribute to the stigma, marginalization, discrimination, violence, and lack of access to basic services, such as police protection and health care, experienced by sex workers.

Efforts to improve the health and safety of sex workers must be based on a recognition of sex workers’ individual agency, dignity, worth and right to organize. Decriminalizing sex work is an important first step. So long as sex work is criminal in Canada, sex workers cannot enjoy their international and Charter rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, security of the person, right to work, and right to enjoy just and favourable conditions of work.

We consult and work closely with organizations run by and for sex workers, and we encourage all governments to do so, in order to bring about reforms that respect and protect the health and human rights of sex workers.

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PublicationsNews

REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ON PROSTITUTION AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

In response to a call from the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls for input for their report on “prostitution and violence against women and girls,” the Legal Network made a submission outlining the impacts of criminal, immigration, and other laws targeting sex workers as a primary source of state violence and … Read more

Submission on Bill S-224, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons) – Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network)/HIV Legal Network

We urge the government to reject Bill S-224 and adopt a human rights-based approach to human trafficking that centers labour rights, migrant rights, and sex workers’ rights and addresses the numerous structural barriers including poverty, precarious immigration status, and lack of access to affordable housing, health and social services that contribute to the risks of … Read more

Brief submitted to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women For their study on: Human Trafficking of Women, Girls, and Gender Diverse People

Sex workers in Canada face an alarming web of punitive laws and policies from all levels of government that attempt, among other things, to crush the measures and networks that keep them. These include laws criminalizing sex work, including those passed via the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act which prohibit working in public … Read more

Legal Network News – December 1, 2022

Today, the HIV Legal Network marks World AIDS Day by joining with the United Nations in a call to governments around the world to reform laws, policies, and practices that create and exacerbate the stigma faced by people living with HIV. This year’s theme is “Equalize” and we are recommitting ourselves to working to challenge laws that oppress … Read more

The Carceral Web: Overview of laws affecting migrant sex workers

Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) and the HIV Legal Network recognize sex work is work and respect the agency of sex workers and migrants. We also recognize the harms caused by criminalization, policing, and laws and policies that discriminate against migrant sex workers. We fight for the dignity, rights, and justice of … Read more

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Media Release: Sex workers are deeply disappointed with the Ontario Superior Court decision dismissing systemic harms experienced

SEPTEMBER 18, 2023 BY CASWLR Monday, September 18, 2023 — Today, the Ontario Superior Court released its decision in CASWLR v Attorney General (Canada), a case that sought to strike down harmful provisions of the Protection of Communities and Exploited People Act (PCEPA) on the grounds that they violate sex workers’ Charter rights. Sex workers across Canada are devastated to learn that … Read more

WORLD AIDS DAY 2022: IT’S TIME TO EQUALIZE, IN CANADA AND BEYOND

November 30, 2022 — Today, the HIV Legal Network marks World AIDS Day by joining with the United Nations (UN) in a call to governments around the world to reform laws, policies, and practices that create and exacerbate the stigma faced by people living with HIV. With this year’s theme being “Equalize,” we are focused … Read more

MEDIA RELEASE: GOVERNMENT FAILURE TO RESPECT SEX WORKERS’ HUMAN RIGHTS FORCES SEX WORKERS BACK TO COURT

GOVERNMENT FAILURE TO RESPECT SEX WORKERS’ HUMAN RIGHTS FORCES SEX WORKERS BACK TO COURT For interviews or a recording of the press conference, please contact Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, contact@sexworklawreform.com, 514.916.2598 Sex Worker Legal Media Briefing: Monday, October 3, 2022, 1pm, 330 University Avenue (Ontario Superior Court) September 29, 2022 – The … Read more

MEDIA RELEASE: TOWN OF NEWMARKET TARGETS AND SHUTS DOWN ASIAN MASSAGE BUSINESSES

TOWN OF NEWMARKET TARGETS AND SHUTS DOWN ASIAN MASSAGE BUSINESSES Groups calling on municipality to end the injustice and repeal new, racist by-law For immediate release May 5, 2022 – Toronto – A group of more than 50 allied organizations — as well as community members, activists, academics, and others — who are committed to human … Read more

MEDIA STATEMENT: WORLD AIDS DAY 2021: FORTY YEARS OF HIV, FORTY YEARS OF PROGRESS

WORLD AIDS DAY 2021: FORTY YEARS OF HIV, FORTY YEARS OF PROGRESS The following can be attributed to the HIV Legal Network.   November 30, 2021 – Toronto – Tomorrow is World AIDS Day — a day to reflect on the current state of HIV and AIDS in the world, where we started, and how … Read more

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