June 13th rally at the Supreme Court of Canada: Sex Workers we support you!

This Thursday June 13th, the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa will be standing in solidarity with sex workers demanding the decriminalization of their lives and work here in our communities, in all of Canada and globally. This rally is taking place in light of the Supreme Court of Canada Judges hearing the case of Bedford v Canada (the trial regarding Canada’s laws on sex work). The criminalization/decriminalization of sex work in Canada will be debated in front of the judges, and although a decision won’t be made this Thursday, their ruling will be final and apply to all provinces and territories in Canada.

Although not mutually exclusive, the criminalization of sex work has many parallels with the criminalization of drugs. Living and/or working within these criminalized contexts means people often have their options to safe(r) drug use and/or sex drastically reduced due to the fear of criminalization. This fear of criminalization often forces people into making risky choices (ie. sex workers/sex trading individuals not having enough time to screen their clients; or people who use drugs sharing needles when injecting because they don’t want to be found with paraphernalia on their person). Perhaps if people were not criminalized and stigmatized for their work or life choices, they could actually access the information and support they require to make more informed, safer, or alternative decisions.

CSCS advocates for the opening of safer drug consumption sites in order to provide accessible and compassionate health care for all. This vision includes the sex workers in our communities who would potentially make use of a safer drug consumption site. As long as the lives and work of sex workers/sex trading individuals are criminalized, the barriers to adequate and accessible healthcare will only grow.

This short rally is happening on June 13th at NOON on the steps of the Supreme Court of Canada. Please come out to show your support for the decriminalization of sex work, and stand in solidarity with sex workers’ advocacy groups across Canada. Sex workers/sex trading folks are the experts in their own lives/work, and their voices must be heard.

Speakers at the rally will include: POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau: Work Educate Resist), Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, Stella Montreal, Aboriginal Legal Services, FIRST, PIVOT Legal Society, Sex Workers United Against Violence Society (SWUAV), Downtown East-Side Sex Workers United Against Violence, Providing Alternatives Counselling & Education Society (PACE), Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC) and more! For those of you with Facebook, you can find the event page for the rally here: https://www.facebook.com/events/501833173205657/?fref=ts

To learn more about sex workers’ rights and the law in Canada, here are just a few resources:

POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau: Work Educate Resist)’s recent community teach-in

POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau: Work Educate Resist)’s website

Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project

Stella Montreal’s ‘Sex Work: 14 answers to your questions’

Stella Montreal’s Infosheets on sex work in Canada

‘Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network - Sex Work Law Reform in Canada: Considering problems with the Nordic model’