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The high court deemed laws ottawz brothels, communicating in public with clients and living on the profits of prostitution to be too sweeping. The ruling follows a court challenge filed by former and current sex workers. The justices' decision gives the Canadian government one year to craft new legislation.
All nine of the court's judges ruled in favour of striking the laws down, finding they were "grossly disproportionate". Canada's criminal code currently makes it illegal to keep a brothel, communicate in public about acts of prostitution or live off its proceeds.
But Justice McLachlin wrote: "Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and ogtawa of prostitutes. Anti-prostitution laws will continue to be enforced in the meantime. Canadian Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the government would reflect on "this very complex matter".
A Canadian women's rights group condemned the court's decision, saying it was a "sad day". The federal and Ontario governments appealed against two other parts of that decision: striking down the law against brothels; and limiting the ban on eecorts off the avails of prostitution. The Canadian authorities argued that they should be entitled to legislate against prostitution as they "see fit".
Lawyers for the Ottawa government canaa claimed "if the conditions imposed by the law prejudice [sex workers'] security, it is their choice to engage in the activity, not the law, that is the cause". But the Supreme Court ruled it was not a choice for many.