Judge rules sections of Canada's prostitution laws are unconstitutional in landmark case
LONDON, ONT -- A Kitchener judge has ruled that sections of Canada's prostitution law violates the constitution in a landmark case surrounding a London couple.
The case, which was moved to Kitchener last April, surrounded Tiffany Harvey and Hamad Anwar who ran an escort agency in London.
The couple was charged in 2015 when police raided Fantasy World Escorts.
While several human trafficking charges were dropped they remained charged with advertising sexual services, making money from the sex trade, and procuring for the sex trade.
Those charges have now been stayed as Justice Thomas McKay ruled that they were unconstitutional, a decision that is likely to be appealed by the Crown.
"Legislation for which the stated purposes include eliminating exploitation and reducing the risk of violence to sex workers actually has the effect of exposing sex workers to an increased risk of exploitation...," said McKay in his decision.
McKay noted that his decision is in regards to this case only. This means that the case will serve as a test case for higher court cases.
The couple challenged the charges saying they violate a sex worker’s right to a safe work environment.
The couple's lawyer James Lockyear spoke with media praising McKay's decision.
"I think his judgement is a tremendous advance for the cause of a good society, and a society that protects those who are being exploited especially the sex workers," said Lockyear.
The constitutional challenge was the first of its kind against Canada’s new prostitution laws brought in back in 2014 under the Harper government.
The Crown argued that sex work cannot be made safe and says the legislation is constitutional.
Legal analysts say that today’s decision will likely be appealed and could end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.