Canada: Anti Sex Worker Bill Passes Senate

 

The Protection of Communities and Exploited persons act, Bill C-36, a harmful new piece of legislation introduced by the Conservative Canadian government in response to last year’s Bedford decision, looks set to become law.

On Wednesday October 29th and Thursday October 30th, the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs had their last reading of Bill C-36. On Thursday afternoon the committee went through a clause-by-clause reading of the Bill. 

The Bill returned to the entire Senate, without amendment and for its third reading on November 4th. Senator Mobina Jaffer (Liberal - British Columbia) proposed a suspension of the third reading in favour of amending the bill, but was voted down by 49 saying no, 24 saying yes, and one abstaining.

The next and final stage for the bill is to seek Royal Assent, which it is almost guaranteed to pass. Although there has been no date given for the royal assent, it is likely to come within the next few weeks, which would meet the December deadline mandated by the Supreme Court last year. On account of a clause in the bill, certain provisions of the bill will take effect on the date of royal assent.

Bill C-36 has been roundly criticised, and fought hard, by sex workers, allies and human rights advocates. Earlier this year, Pivot Legal Society released an in-depth report on the far-reaching consequences of legislation that would seek to criminalise the clients of sex workers.

 

Sex Professionals of Canada made the following statement at their website:

With sadness we inform you that Bill C-36, the anti-sex work laws, passed third reading in the Senate on November 4, 2014, with no amendments. Once it receives Royal Assent, which we believe could be as soon as in the next few days, it will be law across the country.

This new set of laws will ensure violence against us. Keeping criminalisation in place will continue the stigma and social exclusion of sex workers.

Bringing forth the Bedford, Lebovitch, Scott challenge was right!

What the Supreme Court of Canada did was just!

What the Harper government is doing is a travesty!

Know this: we live to fight another day! In all of human history, no government, no army, no religion has ever stopped sex work, nor will they be able to stop what is now a global sex workers rights movement.

This isn’t over!

 

Regional Correspondent: North America and the Caribbean