Does Canada need more gender equality?

Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a clause in a long-delayed piece of legislation regarding sex work violated sex workers’ rights. Because of this, a three-judge appeal panel of the Alberta Court of Appeal will rule on whether that law, which prohibits people from engaging in commercial sex for “live entertainment purposes”, is unconstitutional.

But some Canadian sexual rights advocates don’t want to wait. In a court filing, the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPP) stated that the original court ruling “kicked off in reality a lot of evidence which may contribute to making this particular law not constitutional.” The CAPP suit focuses on three areas of harm reduction: safe housing and condoms for sex workers, abortion services and “ultra sound medical procedures for safe and effective birth control,” and financial access to pregnancy testing.

In 2011, the federal government tried to pass the Fair Housing Act, Regulations and Caregiver Protection Act, in opposition to the international Surrogacy and Voluntary Separation (VVS) Review Standing Committee and to the related Family and Children’s Services Act. In 2014, the Canadian Association of Firefighters attempted to pass the Firemen’s Recognition and Remuneration Act that would grant fire crews retroactive compensation equal to the same amount in 2009. This was unsuccessful in spite of public pressure and protests. However, the group continues to campaign for the introduction of a mandatory firearm registry in Canada.

The recent case has garnered international attention. Attorneys representing sex workers in the British Columbia Supreme Court will no doubt file comment briefs in the coming weeks.

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