via the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Last month, the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform — of which the Legal Network is a member — wrote to David Lametti, the federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General, urging him to issue a directive to stop federal Crown Attorneys from prosecuting sex work offences. Unfortunately, despite the urgency, we have yet to hear from his office.
Under the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, all facets of sex work are criminalized, meaning that sex workers are forced to work in isolation and in unsafe conditions. Their human rights are being violated. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem as many sex workers are out of work and the criminalization of their labour means many cannot access emergency government financial support. These challenges are compounded for sex workers who are Indigenous, Black, migrant, trans, or who use drugs — who are disproportionately affected by criminalization, and also face particularly intense police profiling, including a presumption of involvement in sex work, but are routinely positioned outside the reach of assistance in times of actual need.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, UN agencies have called on countries to take immediate, critical action to protect the health and rights of sex workers, which include, among other steps, an “immediate halt to arrests and prosecutions for sex work-related activity.” The Attorney General has the power to improve this situation immediately by directing federal prosecutors in the three territories to stop prosecutions. This would, in turn, send a strong message to the entire country that the criminalization of sex work does not promote human rights and is not in the public interest.
As initiatives to defund police and redirect resources spent on law enforcement towards community gain support, this directive would be a step in that direction. We need Minister Lametti to take action.
Here’s how you can help.
Use our prewritten tweet to tell Minister Lametti that you support sex workers’ rights to work safely and without fear of prosecution:
The ongoing enforcement of sex work offences is a violation of sex workers’ human rights. It denies agency and dignity. We’re joining the call to stop enforcing sex work offences immediately. #SexWorkDecrim @CDNSWAlliance @DavidLametti #RepealPCEPA
You can also share the images below on your other social media and help spread the word about the need to change the laws today.
The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the spotlight on the unfair sex work laws that exist in Canada, but the injustice existed before this and will continue afterwards unless the laws are ultimately changed. Minister Lametti has the power to do this and with your help, we can use our collective voices to make him take action.
The Legal Network