This feature documentary explores the state of prostitution laws in Canada. It 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 argument for why prostitution is good for society. 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)
Ages 16 to 18
Ethics and Religious Culture - Ethical Values
Health/Personal Development - Sexuality
History and Citizenship Education - Civil Rights and Freedoms
Social Studies - Canadian Politics and Government
Buying Sex highlights some of the equity issues in Canada at the moment. Brainstorm the challenges that sex workers face trying to escape the limits of their profession. Present a map of the current prostitution laws across the world. Can students find any similarities between the countries that have more lenient laws? Find news coverage of the Bedford v. Canada decision from multiple sources and search for reporting bias. What is the current status of prostitution laws in Canada?