Male Sex Workers Lose Advertising on Squirt

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Regional Correspondent North America and the Caribbean
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Squirt, a Canadian gay sex website owned by Pink Triangle Press, announced October 21st that they have pulled escort ads from their service according to Daily Xtra.

Ken Popert, executive director of Pink Triangle Press, commented that this decision complies with the advertising prohibition in the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), Canada’s new anti-sex work law that came into effect on December 6, 2014. The new law prohibits the advertisement of sexual services with fines and up to five years in prison.

This appears to be the first major sex work advertiser in Canada to comply with the new law. Last year, NOW Magazine, a Toronto-based daily newspaper that advertises sexual services, announced that they would continue to run ads for sexual services and it is believed that they may challenge this law in court. Their statement can be read here.

Speaking to Daily Xtra Laura Dilley of NSWP member organization PACE Society discussed the impact criminalising the advertisement of sexual services has on sex workers under the PCEPA. She said, “When they can’t advertise their services, their health and safety is put at risk because control over working conditions and safety measures is reduced.”

The PCEPA, replaces Canada’s previous anti-prostitution laws ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2013. Modeled in part off the ‘Nordic Model’ of criminalising clients, the PCEPA reintroduces several of the unconstitutional laws struck down by the Supreme Court such as communicating and living off the avails of “prostitution” (criminalising third parties). In addition to these, a new advertising prohibition was introduced, and a $20m budget created to fund anti-sex work exit programmes across the country.

Squirt is the second major loss of an online advertiser for trans and cis male sex workers in North America over the past three months, following the charges laid against staff in August 2015 in New York City. As a result of these closures, male sex workers throughout the region are facing a potential loss of income and security. NSWP’s statement condemning the raid and arrests at can be viewed here.

While sex work advertisers, such as MyRedBook, have been under attack by various law enforcement agencies across North America in recent years, the closure of and Squirt’s escorting services appear to be the first specifically targeting male sex workers.

Without places to advertise their services, Dilley comments to Daily Xtra that, “some workers have been moving to the streets, which can be very, very violent because there is no security or regulations in place.”

Recently elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party of Canada, a centrist political party, has stated that his government is committed to repealing the PCEPA. Trudeau, who voted against Canada’s anti-sex work legislation in Parliament, stated during the campaign that he supports “evidence-based policy” on sex work. However, speaking to the CBC in 2014, Trudeau also stated that he believes “prostitution itself is a form of violence against women.”

It remains to be seen if the newly elected Prime Minister will follow through on his promise to repeal Canada’s anti-sex work legislation, including it’s advertising prohibition. In the meantime, male sex workers will have to find new venues to advertise their services in Canada.