Under the new law, while a sex worker is allowed to sell his or her sexual services, buying the services is illegal. (Photo: iStock)
In a brilliantly named police sting called “Operation John Be Gone”, 27 men were arrested and charged with obtaining sexual services of prostitutes in Sydney, N.S. between August and September 2015.
The sting, in which two female undercover police officers posed as sex workers, has recently been challenged in court. The lawyer for one of the men claims his client’s charter rights were violated and that he was entrapped.
His client is a 73-year old man, who the lawyer claims was lured by one of the officers as he drove down Charlotte Street in downtown Sydney. She waved him over and asked him what kind of sexual services he wanted and once they agreed on a price of $30, he was arrested.
His lawyer argues that his client shouldn’t have been charged because his client was persuaded into committing an illegal act.
The men were arrested under the new 2014 prostitution law that the government put in place a year after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the old law, because it violated the charter rights of sex workers.
Under the new law, while a sex worker is allowed to sell his or her sexual services, buying the services is illegal. Anyone who buys the services of a sex worker can be charged with a serious crime and could face up to five years in prison.
The law, which was passed in 2014, states, “Everyone who, in any place, obtains for consideration, or communicates with anyone for the purpose of obtaining for consideration, the sexual services of a person is guilty of. . .”
What does that mean?
Consideration is defined as a value exchange. People agree to exchange things that have value to them, such as services for money.
For some, the new law is clear. British Columbia law professor Janine Benedet told CBC News that if the men were seeking to get ”or offering to obtain sexual services for consideration. . .then they are breaking the law.”
The question then is: did the man seek out sexual services, or was he persuaded into obtaining these services?
That question will be answered on August 22, 2016, when the court will release its decision.