The Supreme Court of Canada announced today that it will hear the federal government’s appeal of a decision allowing sex workers to challenge Canada’s criminal laws relating to adult prostitution: SWUAV & Kiselbach v. AG Canada. The issue on appeal is whether Sheryl Kiselbach, a former sex worker, and the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society (SWUAV) have the right to challenge Canada’s criminal laws relating to adult prostitution.
The case began in 2007, when SWUAV, a non-profit organization composed of street-based sex workers, and Kiselbach, a former sex worker with 30 years of experience in the sex industry, filed a constitutional challenge to the criminal laws relating to adult prostitution. Before the case was able to get to trial, the federal government brought a motion to have the case struck out of court. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs did not have the legal right to initiate such a challenge and that only an individual active sex worker or a sex worker currently facing charges could bring forward such a case. In October 2010, the Court of Appeal reversed that decision, granting SWUAV and Kiselbach public interest standing.
The outcome of this case will have a very important impact on public interest advocacy in Canada and access to justice for marginalized people.
SWUAV and Ms. Kiselbach are represented by Katrina Pacey and Joseph Arvay, QC.