Victoria clergy have condemned the federal government’s proposed prostitution laws, criticizing what they consider to be a disregard for the welfare and human rights of sex workers.
Bill C-36, titled the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, is before the House of Commons. The bill was introduced after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the current laws regarding prostitution to be unconstitutional last December.
Rev. Bruce Bryant-Scott referred to the legislative bill as a “re-wording of old legislation.”
“It infringes upon the human rights of sex workers to health, safety, and life,” Bryant-Scott said. “It disregards the issues raised by the Supreme Court of Canada when it struck down the provisions of the Criminal Code that targets sex workers. This does not further the welfare of sex workers, but continues their marginalization.”
Bryant-Scott clarified that the Anglican Church continues to uphold marriage as the ideal and normative place for sexual relations, but that he considers the added risk that would be brought on by the bill to be “immoral.”
He also criticized the lack of consultation with sex workers and advocates, as well as the discriminatory nature of the legislation.
“This bill continues to criminalize poverty,” he said, “especially amongst indigenous peoples, youth coming from government care, women with disabilities, and low-income single mothers.”
Bryant-Scott’s release was signed by 34 ministers, as well as two University of Victoria professors, among others. He made note that half of the signatures were from women, and one from a First Nations priest.