Feb. 25, 2014
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This week, the Federal Government launched a ‘Public Consultation on Prostitution-Related Offences in Canada’ on the Department of Justice website that will remain open until March 17, 2014. The website includes a ‘Discussion Paper’ and provides room for the public to submit 500 word answers to 6 questions. It can be viewed here.
The Consultation and questions have been criticized for several reasons, including: 1) An online survey does not take the place of face to face consultations with key stakeholders; 2) The discussion paper and questions are worded to favour criminalization and ignore the findings in Bedford that the laws themselves are harmful; and 3) The Justice Minister has already spoken publicly of the Conservative government’s interest in the Nordic Model (criminalizing the purchase of sex).
Despite the clear shortcomings of the Consultation and concerns of a failure to consider the evidence, it is critical that a diverse range of individuals and organizations provide their input, including sex workers, community service providers, human rights and legal experts, academic researchers and policy makers. GSHI’s ongoing research on health and safety in the sex industry provides strong evidence of the harms of criminalization, and critical evidence-based need for full decriminalization to ensure the health, safety and human rights of sex workers. We hope that this evidence is considered in the writing of any new legislation related to sex work in Canada. You can find a summary of relevant GSHI research related to Bedford that may be helpful in guiding your submissions here. GSHI will also be submitting comments as an organization very soon, and we will share our submissions on the GSHI website when we do. Sex workers across Canada have also provided their suggestions on the public consultation and key issues to consider in framing your responses, and we encourage you to read these suggestions here.
Thank you for your time and support,
The GSHI Team