BY DOUGLAS QUAN, POSTMEDIA NEWS APRIL 2, 2012
Two-thirds of Canadians support the legalization of brothels, according to the results of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Postmedia News and Global Television.
The poll results suggest the judicial system may be aligned with the community values of Canadians more than we thought, said Ipsos Reid CEO Darrell Bricker, referring to the recent Ontario Court of Appeal ruling striking down some of Canada’s prostitution laws — including a ban on brothels or “bawdy houses.”
“There isn’t a huge amount of shock and outrage (over the ruling),” Bricker said.
Asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed that prostitution in brothels should be legal, 21 per cent of the poll’s respondents said they strongly agreed and 44 per cent said they somewhat agreed.
Meanwhile, 20 per cent said they strongly disagreed, while 15 per cent said they somewhat disagreed.
When demographics are taken into account, more men than women — 75 per cent versus 56 per cent — expressed support for legalizing brothels.
To Bricker’s surprise, those aged 55 and older were most likely to support legalizing brothels (69 per cent), followed by those 35 to 54 (67 per cent) and those 18 to 34 (57 per cent).
“It is kind of surprising, a bit counterintuitive,” he said.
Bricker speculated that perhaps older Canadians were thinking from the perspective of people taking advantage of the services, while younger Canadians were thinking from the perspective of those being taken advantage of.
Geographically speaking, residents in B.C. were most supportive of legalizing brothels (73 per cent), followed by those living in Quebec (68 per cent), Ontario (65 per cent), Alberta (60 per cent), Atlantic Canada (59 per cent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (51 per cent).
The pollster surveyed 1,004 adults between March 30 and April 1. The estimated margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
In its ruling last week, the Ontario appeal court said the ban on brothels forced sex workers onto the streets, putting their safety at risk. It gave the federal government one year to amend the Criminal Code.
The appeal court also took issue with a ban on living off the avails of prostitution, saying the law was too broad and should be amended to target pimps who exploit prostitutes — not bodyguards and other support staff.
In the same ruling, however, the appeal court upheld a ban on open solicitation of customers on the street.
It is expected that the decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
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