In the past three years there have been several amendments to the laws surrounding prostitution in Canada. This has deepened the confusion surrounding the question: Is prostitution a crime?
With the passing of bill B C-36 in December 6th 2014 the following actions are criminalized:
- Paying for sex: the buying of sex – or “obtain[ing] for consideration… the sexual services of a person.” The penalties include jail time – up to five years in some cases – and minimum cash fines that go up after a first offence.
- Communicating for sex or third party advertising of sexual service
Is it still legal to sell sex?
- It is illegal to purchase sexual services but legal to sell them
- sex workers can still advertise their own services though platforms that advertise for them can face prosecution
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What is a “sexual service?”
- Anyone who “receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly” from the sale of a “sexual service,” faces up to 10 years in prison.
Is it illegal to work with sex workers?
- Excluded are those who have “a legitimate living arrangement” with a sex worker, those who receives the benefit “as a result of a legal or moral obligation” of the sex worker, those who sell the sex worker a “service or good” on the same terms to the general public, and those who offer a private service to sex workers but do so for a fee “proportionate” to the service and so long as they do not “counsel or encourage” sex work.
There is a disagreement between those who want to see sex work explicitly prohibited, as they view it as morally unacceptable or exploitive, and those who advocate decriminalization as they view sex work as a transaction between consenting adults or they believe prohibition encourages the exploitation of sex workers by denying them legal and regulatory protections.