The Sex Worker Rights Movement in Canada: Challenging Legislation

  • Sarah Beer
Keywords: social movements, legal mobilisation, sex work, regulation, Canada


Sex worker activists in Canada identify the criminalisation of various aspects of prostitution as a major source of oppression. In an effort to improve rights and safety, two groups of sex workers brought constitutional litigation to their respective provincial courts to strike prostitution-related laws from the Criminal Code of Canada. These actions counter what might be expected based on the extant literature on the sex worker rights movement, and despite successful litigation, conditions have become more punitive. The court process brought to light many achievements and ongoing obstacles facing sex workers in Canada. Drawing on original research with activists in multiple Canadian cities, this paper examines litigation from a social movement perspective.