Posted in Diversity in the judiciary and women in the legal professions, Human rights, Inherently Brief, Prostitution & sex work, Rape, sexual assault & harassment, tagged Bedford v Canada, Israel judicial appointments committee, judicial diversity, Lord Rennard, sex workers' rights, sexual harassment on January 31, 2014|
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Three Laws Criminalising Aspects of Sex Work in Canada Declared in Breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Vikki Lang (Durham Law School)
‘It’s about whether or not we believe that sex workers are people deserving of the same rights and dignity as the rest of the public’ – Plaintiffs’ Memorandum, Bedford v Canada 2012
On the 20th December 2013, the landmark decision of Attorney General of Canada v. Terri Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott was reached. In this case, three sex workers used the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to successfully challenge laws that criminalised certain actions relating to selling sex. Canada’s highest court has ruled that three provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code, s. 210 (keeping or being found in a bawdy house), s. 212(1)(j) (living on the avails of prostitution), and s. 213(1)(c) (communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution) violate the s. 7 right to security of the person protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All three laws have been struck down.
In the decision the court said:
‘The prohibitions at issue do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate. They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky – but legal – activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risk.” (para 60)’
This landmark decision saw sex workers, for the first time, successfully rely on human rights legislation to protect their safety and freedom in relation to their occupation. The plaintiffs successfully argued that their right to liberty and security of the person was breached as they were forced to break the law and risk arrest in order to take actions that increase their security and safety. (more…)
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Emily Parker & Olivia Beard
The Church of England is set to allow the appointment of gay bishops, even if they are in a civil partnership, provided they have not been sexually active whilst in the priesthood. The guidance will outline that sexual orientation must not be taken into account when considering whether a person is suitable to be a bishop (see the document here). Last year, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Williams twice refused to allow a homosexual to become a bishop; the guidance aims to prevent such discriminatory action. However, General Synod member Christina Rees warns that the guidance is ‘too open’: for example it says that a selection committee could veto a gay candidate if ‘the appointment of the candidate would cause division and disunity within the diocese in question’, which it could easily argue is the case.
Dan Savage has been awarded a ‘Special Achievement’ Webby Award for his work on the ‘It Gets Better Project’ which provides support for the LGBT community who are victims of bullying. The project was founded by Dan Savage in 2010 after the suicide of Billy Lucas. Originating on the YouTube channel, the project depicts ordinary people and various celebrities sharing their experience and providing support to LGBT youth who face bullying and harassment. The Albert Kennedy Trust is also aiming to raise awareness of difficulties the LGBT community face through the launch of a new television advert, although with a very different tone. (more…)
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Lou McGolpin & Bhavna Bhagwan
A FEW CHOICE WORDS …
In an eventful first half of the month, some pearls of wisdom have hit the newswires …
In the third ever sexual harassment claim against a male employer in Russia, the presiding judge offered this insight: “If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children”.
Meanwhile, upon joining the campaign calling for a rethink of the legal aid cuts, Joanna Lumley observed that: “Justice is only justice if it is available to everyone” … truer words have ne’er been spoken.
THE MONTH TO DATE
Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Partnership
Topical coverage from the BBC on 14 February reported that proposals before the coalition government to implement s202 of the Equality act 2010 are being discussed. The amendment, passed in the Lords last year, would remove the ban on civil partnerships carried out in religious locations. It is noteworthy that religious organisations will not be forced to allow the civil partnerships ceremonies to take place within their religious places. The tension arises again on whether the religious bodies’ rights and beliefs can override the right of civil partners to exercise their choice. The discussion promises to be rich in light of the Equality Act 2010. (more…)
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