History of Canadian Sex Work Legislation

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Sex work legislation is an important human rights issue that concerns all Canadians. Long before the Canadian government’s passage of Bill C-36 in 2014, many other laws have tried to stop “the world’s oldest profession” in Canada. More than simply trying to end prostitution, these historical  laws legalized discrimination against a range of communities based on race, class, gender and sexuality. Take a tour through our online exhibit to learn more.

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Image: A sex workers pushes past a missionary trying to convince her to return to badly paid work as a maid or laundress. Sex work offered working-class women, especially those that needed to support a family, one of the best economic opportunities in the 1800s. 

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