Humanists join letter in support of decriminalizing sex work

The BC Humanist Association joined over 100 organizations and individuals in signing a letter calling for the decriminalization of sex work in Canada.

The letter, coordinated by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, calls on delegates to the Liberal Party of Canada's upcoming convention to support a resolution to repeal the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.

Leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have moved to recognize that existing criminal prohibitions on sex work have failed to address the underlying issues of exploitation and human trafficking. Instead, these groups now support recognizing people's freedom to engage in consensual activities and policies to support those who choose to leave sex work.

This position is in line with the sixth point of Humanist Manifesto II, which said in 1973:

In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized. While we do not approve of exploitive, denigrating forms of sexual expression, neither do we wish to prohibit, by law or social sanction, sexual behavior between consenting adults. The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered “evil.” Without countenancing mindless permissiveness or unbridled promiscuity, a civilized society should be a tolerant one. Short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire. We wish to cultivate the development of a responsible attitude toward sexuality, in which humans are not exploited as sexual objects, and in which intimacy, sensitivity, respect, and honesty in interpersonal relations are encouraged.

As such, at our most recent board meeting, the BC Humanist Association adopted a policy in support of the Rights of Sex Workers affirming our support for the rights of sex workers to be free from human rights abuses including rape, violence, extortion and discrimination; decriminalization of consensual sex work for those over the age of 18; and prohibitions on exploitation and trafficking in commercial sex (including children).

The Liberal Party's 2018 national convention will be held April 19-21 in Halifax.

Read the letter

Resolution #2764


the current Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which prohibits the purchasing of sex, does little to protect sex workers and instead pushes them to work underground and in dangerous conditions;

the current prohibition of buying consensual sex work does not address the underlying issues that make sex work dangerous, but rather creates a climate that makes sex workers unlikely to work with the police and be involved with more serious crimes;

BE IT RESOLVED the Liberal Party of Canada repeal the 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, begin a consultation period with those in the sex work industry and advocacy groups, and move to decriminalize consensual sex work, and the purchase of said sex work, for those over the age of 18;

BE IT RESOLVED the Liberal Party of Canada consult not just with those involved in the sex work, but with surrounding communities to ensure that these changes ensure the safety and wellbeing of these surrounding communities and their families;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that along with decriminalization the Liberal Party of Canada should look to address the true problems facing sex workers by working to increase their access to sexual health clinics, counseling and improve their relationship with local authorities.

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