Poster: Buying Sex

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Home and Classroom use 1

Institutional licence 2


Timely and wise, this feature documentary explores the state of prostitution laws in Canada. Buying Sex captures the complexity of the issue by listening to the frequently conflicting voices of sex workers, policy-makers, lawyers and even the male buyers who make their claim for why prostitution is good for society. With the landmark Supreme Court decision in Canada, the film examines the realities in Sweden and New Zealand. The film also challenges us to think for ourselves and offers a gripping and invaluable account of just what is at stake for all of us.

Warning: This film deals with mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.

Following the release of Buying Sex, Professor Alan Young, counsel for the applicants in Bedford v. Canada and a participant in the film, contacted the NFB to complain that the film provides an incomplete and inaccurate account of the case. The NFB acknowledges that the constitutional challenge is not the focus of the film. Rather, the aim of the film is to examine the current controversy in Canada around the decriminalization of prostitution, of which the Bedford case is one aspect. The goal is to create a film which encourages Canadians to engage in an informed debate about sex work from a national and international perspective. The NFB believes the film achieves this purpose. In the spirit of furthering an informed debate on these issues, including the constitutional challenge, and in response to Prof. Young's concerns, the NFB provides below links to the legal briefs filed by the parties before the Supreme Court of Canada as well as links to the judgments of all three Canadian Courts. The third judgment, from the Supreme Court of Canada, was released in December 2013, following the completion of the film. The Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the three prostitution related laws challenged by Prof. Young, but suspended its judgment for one year to allow Parliament to consider whether to enact new laws, thus ensuring that the debate surrounding the decriminalization of prostitution will continue in Canada for some time.

Legal Briefs Filed by the Parties in the Supreme Court of Canada

Judgments from the Trial Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada

Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72 (Supreme Court of Canada)

Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2012 ONCA 186 (Court of Appeal for Ontario)

Bedford v. Canada, 2010 ONSC 4264 (CanLII) (Superior Court of Ontario)

Terms of use

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2 Institutional prices include the rights to screen this film in institutional settings and in free public screenings.