Re-Interpreting the Criminal Regulation of Sex Work in Light of Labaye

Elaine Craig


In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada revised the meaning of indecency under the Criminal Code. This was achieved by removing from its definition any reliance on the community standard of tolerance test. In R. c. Labaye the Court reinforced the notion that the focus of laws regulating sexuality should not be based on sexual morality and moral harm to society but rather on political morality and actual harm to individuals. The reasoning in R. c. Labaye should change the way that courts understand the prostitution-related provisions in the Criminal Code. In particular, a proper application of its reasoning suggests that the conception of harm developed in R. c. Labaye should ultimately lead to a reduction of the detrimental impact on sex workers that many have suggested is directly caused by section 210 (the bawdy house law) and section 213 (the general communication provision) of the Criminal Code.


Criminal Law; Gender and Sexuality

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