Today, PACE celebrates the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision striking down three provisions of Canada’s sex work laws! The provisions that the Supreme Court ruled were unconstitutional criminalized the operation of bawdy houses (e.g., brothels), living off the avails of sex work, and communicating for the purposes of sex work. PACE applauds this decision.
PACE Society was an intervenor in the current case, Bedford v. Canada. PACE had previously been involved in a parallel case challenging the constitutionality of Canada’s sex work laws. Our Violence Prevention Coordinator, Sheri Kiselbach, had joined with Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV) and Pivot Legal to challenge federal sex work laws. The government countered that Ms. Kiselbach and SWUAV did not have standing to challenge these laws because they had not been charged or were not active sex workers. This issue of standing went before the Supreme Court and Pivot Legal’s Katrina Pacey argued on behalf of Ms. Kiselbach and SWUAV. In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that SWUAV and Ms. Kiselbach had public interest standing, and revised how standing is determined to increase legal access to marginalized groups.
By this time, a separate case launched in Ontario by Terri-Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott had reached the Supreme Court. PACE was granted intervenor status, with Katrina Pacey at Pivot Legal arguing on the organization’s behalf. The documentary, Voices for Dignity, documents PACE, SWUAV and Pivot Legal’s journey.