In Canada and many other countries, sex workers face extreme human rights abuses. Laws and their enforcement often contribute to the stigma, marginalization, discrimination, violence, and lack of access to basic services, such as police protection and health care, experienced by sex workers.
Efforts to improve the health and safety of sex workers must be based on a recognition of sex workers’ individual agency, dignity, worth and right to organize. Decriminalizing sex work is an important first step. So long as sex work is criminal in Canada, sex workers cannot enjoy their international and Charter rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, security of the person, right to work, and right to enjoy just and favourable conditions of work.
We consult and work closely with organizations run by and for sex workers, and we encourage all governments to do so, in order to bring about reforms that respect and protect the health and human rights of sex workers.
November 18, 2016 — Sex workers and allies in Canada are expressing deep concern and disappointment with the CEDAW Committee’s failure to adequately protect the rights of sex workers in Canada. During an international review of Canada’s progress on women’s human rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women sidelined the concerns of […]
November 15, 2016 — The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network welcomes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement today to appoint a Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues who will work with Egale Canada Human Rights Trust and other stakeholders to address the urgent human rights and public health issues outlined in The Just Society Report.
“The Legal Network submits this briefing to the World Health Organization’s High-Level Working Group of Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents in order to provide inputs on the following areas of concern: (i) the rights of women living with HIV; (ii) the rights of women, children and adolescents who use drugs; (iii) […]
“The Legal Network’s guiding values are rooted in a focus on the human rights of marginalized populations such as sex workers and their meaningful participation in policies and programs that affect them. We make this submission to UN Women to urge the agency to (1) engage in a transparent and inclusive consultation with sex workers […]
“The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network submits this briefing to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in advance of its review of the periodic report of Canada, held during its 65th session from 24 October to 18 November 2016. “In this submission, the Legal Network sets out its concerns about Canada’s […]
When International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau took up her post in November 2015, she was tasked with leading Canada’s efforts to “provide humanitarian assistance to help reduce poverty and inequality in the world” and refocusing Canada’s development assistance “on helping the poorest and most vulnerable.” This renewed focus on marginalized communities must underlie the current […]
“The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network welcomes this opportunity to provide our perspectives on the government’s priorities for establishing an international assistance policy and funding framework. When International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau took up her post in November 2015, she was tasked with leading Canada’s efforts to ‘provide humanitarian assistance to help reduce poverty and inequality in the world’ and […]
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network applauds Amnesty International’s “State Obligations to Respect, Protect and Fulfil the Human Rights of Sex Workers,” released today, which calls for the removal of all laws and policies that make sex work a criminal offence, including those that prohibit selling, buying or facilitating sex work or living off its proceeds.
“We are pleased to see the new federal government’s commitment to recognizing the legacy of colonization on Indigenous peoples and its direct relationship to the widespread violence that Indigenous women suffer. We make this submission to urge the Inquiry to ensure the meaningful participation of Indigenous women who sell or trade sex and/or use drugs, […]
Toronto, November 30, 2015 — In a briefing paper released to parliamentarians in advance of World AIDS Day (December 1), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is calling on the new federal government to take decisive steps to address the HIV epidemic, both in Canada and abroad. Laying out five key areas and recommending associated actions, […]
It is time for Canada to re-commit to the global project of ending HIV, including by basing our response on sound scientific evidence and fundamental human rights principles.
“We, activists and representatives of the key populations affected by HIV and non-governmental organizations working in the field of combating the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) and other countries, with this open letter would like to express our concern in anticipation of your expected participation in the 5th Eastern Europe and […]
This is the third in a series of blog posts being published by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five parties responded. […]
On October 19, 2015, Canada’s voters have an opportunity to decide what kind of government they want — one that has regard for evidence and upholds health and human rights for all, or one that perpetuates outmoded and ill-informed policies
While Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur has not yet publicly released her review of Canada’s new, misguided sex work law, we understand – according to a reported statement today by Premier Kathleen Wynne – that this review has found “no clear unconstitutionality” in the socalled Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. We disagree with […]
The existing legal framework in Russia makes sex work and related activities punishable offenses, leaving sex workers stigmatized, vulnerable to violence, and disproportionally affected by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. In light of international human rights standards, in particular the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, we examine in this paper whether […]
This was released at today’s press conference re: the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Click here to read Richard Elliott’s remarks.
Today, on the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, sex workers and their allies will send a strong message to Canada’s provincial leaders: Reject the federal government’s toxic new law governing sex work, and do not enforce the law while its constitutionality remains in question. 190 legal experts in Canada have signed a […]
On December 17, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, sex workers and their allies will be calling on Canada’s provincial leaders to take action. Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), Maggie’s — Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, COUNTERfit Women’s Harm Reduction Program (South Riverdale Community Health Centre), and […]
“We are deeply concerned with the new criminal provisions introduced by the so-called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act,
From September 9 to 11, testimony on Bill C-36 (the so- called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act) was heard by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Stéphanie Claivaz-Loranger, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Policy Analyst, and network member Kara Gillies presented to the Committee, voicing strong opposition to the bill as it will greatly affect the […]
In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously decided that several parts of Canada’s Criminal Code dealing with prostitution are unconstitutional because
Judging the epidemic has been prepared as a resource to help judges, magistrates, arbitrators and other judicial officers throughout the world adjudicate cases involving HIV-related issues. This handbook may also be used by judicial trainers and ministries of justice to deliver educational programmes to judges and magistrates on legal issues related to HIV and human […]
This policy brief considers the impact of the “Swedish” or “Nordic” model on sex workers and, in light of its harmful effects, argues that this approach would not withstand constitutional scrutiny in Canada.
This is one in a series of four info sheets on the human rights of women living with or vulnerable to HIV in Canada.
This booklet explains how Canada’s criminal laws related to prostitution affect the health and the human rights of sex workers. It recommends changes to those laws to improve the lives of sex workers. We hope it will be useful to sex workers who are already fighting for their rights every day, and to others who […]