Running brothels has been decriminalised in a Canadian province after a court ruling.
An Ontario court overturned key provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws in a case that could set a precedent for the country.
Prostitution itself is not illegal in Canada, but the court struck down three provisions that criminalised most aspects of it.
The bans on communicating for the purposes of prostitution, pimping and operating a brothel were lifted under the court’s ruling.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel said the dangers prostitutes face far outweigh any harm which may be faced by the public. Himel said the laws set up to protect prostitutes actually harm them.
Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford argued the provisions force sex-trade workers from the safety of their homes to face violence on the streets.
Valerie Scott, one of the women who launched the challenge with Bedford, said sex workers can now pick up the phone and call the police and report a bad client.
The judgment is subject to a 30-day delay as the judge gave the government time to consider how to deal with the potential emergence of unlicensed brothels.
Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the government was seriously considering an appeal.
“We will fight to ensure that the criminal law continues to address the significant harms that flow from prostitution to both communities and the prostitutes themselves, along with other vulnerable persons,” Nicholson said in a statement.