Submitted. Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project, along with sex workers and other experts, question the legitimacy of the federal government online consultation around prostitution in Canada.
“The online consultation allowed for people to complete the form multiple times. The numbers could easily be skewed to support the Conservative government’s agenda to introduce legislation that would criminalize sex work.” – Jean McDonald, Executive Director, Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project.
Sex workers were not consulted in meaningful ways. Vanessa D’Allesio, current sex worker and member of Maggie’s Board of Directors adds, “I wouldn’t be asked to comment on employment standards in the fishing industry, so it begs the question as to why non-sex workers are considered the best source of information to inform legislation on the sex industry.” “Asking the average citizen to comment on a highly stigmatized and misunderstood industry does not reflect the opinions or needs of the people directly affected by these laws – sex workers,” adds Jeff Kingsley, current sex worker in Toronto.
The consultation questions were biased. “They lead people to want to criminalize clients or third parties, without an understanding of the impact of these types of laws on sex workers,” says Hope Bloomington, current sex worker in Toronto. Emily van der Meulen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology at Ryerson University adds, “Laws should not be built on public opinion or moral arguments. Laws should be based on evidence, which is what the court considered when making its judgement in favour of decriminalization.” The Supreme Court of Canada was clear that the laws criminalizing consensual sex work activities increased harm and vulnerability. New laws will simply re-create this situation and will surely be deemed unconstitutional by future courts.
Decriminalization is the only system that will protect sex workers, by ensuring access to labour, legal and human rights.
Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project is an organization run for and by sex workers. Our mission is to assist sex workers in our efforts to live and work with safety and dignity. We are founded on the belief that in order to improve our circumstances, sex workers must control our own lives and destinies.