Solicitation Laws Bad, Say Young Liberals
March 17, 2005
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By Tanya Gulliver
While the subcommittee studies the solicitation laws, a
motion at the Liberal Party’s recent policy convention proposing removing
from the Criminal Code laws related to prostitution was significantly weakened
The section in question, Section 213, is considered to be
one of the most confusing pieces of legislation surrounding sex laws.
Prostitution itself is not illegal in Canada. You can choose to sell your
sexual services in exchange for money or another currency (a ride, a meal, a
place to sleep, whatever). What is illegal under Section 213 however, is
“communicating for the purpose of prostitution”—that is having a
discussion about the purchase or sale of sexual services in a public place.
This dichotomy often leads to sex workers being afraid to
report theft, assault, rape and kidnapping to the police for fear of being
criminalized by having to admit that they had been engaging in prostitution.
It’s hard to tell the cops that a john didn’t pay you the agreed price for
sex when you’re not supposed to be talking about in the first place.
“The issue isn’t about the subtleties of wording of
the motion—the motion has never been extremely specific or lengthy. Our
issue isn’t the wording, it’s been to bring the subject to the national
political stage,” says Denise Brunsdon, national director of the Young
Liberals, which is a group within the Liberal Party.
The original motion called for the removal of the laws
dealing with solicitation but was amended at the suggestion of several Young
Liberals and Liberals at large, according to Brunsdon.
The amendment saw the word “remove” changed to
“review.” That’s basically what is already happening with the
Brunsdon is glad that the latter half of the motion did
pass. It reads: “Be it further resolved that should Section 213 be found to
contribute toward violence against sex trade workers that the Liberal Party Of
Canada encourage the government to propose new legislation that better
protects sex trade workers.”
The motion was prioritized by the youth executive, and
went forward to the justice workshop at the convention. It was put forth as
the number one priority of that workshop (over decriminalization of marijuana)
and passed by a vote of four to one at the convention.
“The Young Liberals Of Canada felt that it was time
that the issue of sex workers’ safety and sex workers’ rights in the
climate of recent deaths in Vancouver [where dozens of women went missing over
the course of years] and Edmonton be addressed on the national stage.”
She says that it’s important that people who are not
former or current sex workers get involved in bringing attention to the issue
if anything is going to change.
“The goal was to have it discussed in a national forum
and now people are talking.”
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