Canada’s highest court has thrown out the country’s anti-prostitution laws in a victory for sex workers who said a ban on brothels and other measures made their profession more dangerous.
But the supreme court ruling, in a case brought by three women in the sex trade, drew criticism from the conservative government and religious leaders.
The justices’ decision gives the Canadian government one year to craft new legislation.
The ruling follows a court challenge filed by former and current sex workers.
“It is not a crime in Canada to sell sex for money,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin ruled in the decision.
Justice McLachlin wrote, “Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes.
“The prohibitions at issue do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate.”
“They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky – but legal – activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks.”
Under the ruling, the Canadian parliament has 12 months to redraft the legislation or it will be withdrawn.