Publishers are now alarmed that Canada’s proposed prostitution bill C-36 makes advertising sex for sale a crime
Canada’s Justice Minister, Peter MacKay, says the government did not seek any outside advice on whether its new prostitution law would pass a constitutional challenge – and it shows. On the most basic level, the bill does not solve the very problem it was supposed to.
The Supreme Court had struck down the old prostitution laws because it found they violated the constitutional rights of prostitutes to “security of the person.” Instead of proposing a new, safe, sensible framework under which sex can be bought and sold, Bill C-36 amplifies what made the old rules dangerous. It criminalizes the buyers of sex and places the seller in jeopardy by forcing the entire transaction underground. That is why it is unlikely the bill would survive a constitutional challenge – a prospect so likely that even Mr. MacKay called it “as sure as night follows day.”
However, prostitutes and pimps aren’t the only ones affected by the awkwardly named Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. Publishers are as well. The law makes it illegal to advertise the offer of sexual services from another person – on pain of 18 months to five years in prison.