Group aims to overturn laws on prostitution
Thursday, May 28, 2009

Irwin Loy

A group that wants to challenge the constitutionality of prostitution laws is hoping a hand from legal groups will bolster its argument.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. and West Coast LEAF, a legal group advocating for women’s equality, have all been granted the right to intervene in a pending appeal aimed at overturning a 2008 decision denying a group of sex-trade workers a chance at arguing against prostitution laws.

“They’re here to support sex workers in their right to bring this challenge,” said Katrina Pacey, a Pivot Legal Society lawyer representing a group of Downtown Eastside-based street sex-trade workers.

The group had sought to challenge the constitutionality of prostitution laws. In effect, it wants to decriminalize the sex trade, arguing current laws endanger street-based prostitutes.

“I’m arguing for the right for sex workers, if they choose to be a sex worker, to live under laws and have rights as all Canadian citizens have,” said Sheryl Kiselbach, a plaintiff in the case and former sex trade worker.

The group argues that current laws see sex workers driven to the streets in a bid to skirt arrest.

The appeal in the B.C. Court of Appeal is scheduled to be heard in November.


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