The Ontario Court of Appeal has issued a ruling yesterday that may finally allow prostitutes to work indoors, in more controlled and secure surroundings.
If we were forced to summarize the 132 page ruling into a single sentence – we would phrase it as such: Prostitutes are people too, and they are entitled to reasonable protections from violence and abuse, and exercising their trade in a ‘house’ is not unreasonable.
This ruling, although it issues from a provincial court, addresses criminal law which is a Canada-wide matter, and therefore it nudges our entire Canadian society in a very positive direction. Unfortunately, and as may be expected, the loudest protests to this ruling come from the political Right, and the Federal Conservatives will surely react to try and counter the benefits of this ruling through legislation. Such a reaction is expected, but counter-intuitive. When one examines core values, the conservatives and the Right should be those who most support a liberalization of the anti-prostitution laws.
Three of the most basic tenets of conservatism are property rights, privacy rights and individual liberties. The only limitation being that you do not harm or unreasonably inconvenience your neighbour. All three of these tenets are applied to how one treats one’s land, but for some reason, conservatives (generally speaking) seem reticent about applying such concepts to how one treats one’s own body. Isn’t one’s rights over their own body the ultimate bastion of the three concepts of property rights, privacy rights and individual liberties? If you cannot decide what you can do with your own body, then what good is the abstract property right to choose whether to put up a fence versus a shed on your land?
At C.A.G.E. we consider that a capable adult, age of majority, has every right to do with their own body whatever they want, and no stuffed shirt in Washington or Ottawa or any other capital city should have a say in that respect. This includes one’s choice to apply tattoos, piercings or scarrification, one’s choice to rent their body out for a few hours in exchange for cash or favours, one’s choice to inject it with stimulants or sedatives or muscle enhancing hormones, or one’s choice to practice extreme sports and push the limits of their endurance without the aide of any artificial enhancements.
There is no justification for preventing an adult man or woman from choosing to practice the trade of prostitution as a full-time, part time, short term or long term career. The various arguments proffered, such as protection from abuse or the good of society, are usually red herrings. These arguments are used to justify laws which not only promote abuse and increase the danger to those who are already at risk, but which may also serve as camouflage for political stances that are more likely motivated by religious preconceptions than by compassion and concern for one’s neighbour, or the best interests of a free and liberal society.
The ruling of Ontario’s Court of Appeal is indeed a step in the right direction. Now, if only the Right would catch up....