After deliberating for nine months, a five-judge panel of the court is faced with the task of deciding whether or not to decriminalize three anti-prostitution provisions on the basis that they actually endanger prostitutes rather than adding to their safety.The decision under appeal struck down the laws governing pimping, keeping a brothel and communicating for the purposes of prostitution.
With the dangers inherent in the sex trade, a trio of downtown Toronto organizations have come together to help make the streets safer.
The Safer Stroll Project came about through collaboration between the Bad Date Coalition, Regent Park Community Health Centre and Street Health Community Nursing Foundation. Over the past three years, the group has helped 25 sex workers learn about safety and move toward personal improvement whether they choose to continue working the streets or not.
by Andrea Houston
Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam says she’s surprised so many people in the Homewood Ave neighbourhood rejected a proposed turn restriction, a move that would have attempted to curb sex work in the area.
Of the 1,800 ballots sent out to area residents, Wong-Tam says 200 were returned. Of those, 52 percent were opposed to the turn restriction, while 48 percent supported it.
Wong-Tam has decided not to move forward with the restriction, which would have stopped drivers from turning onto Homewood Ave from Wellesley St E between 11pm and 6am.
UPDATE – Nov 28: Twenty years ago Gerald Hannon described himself as a satisfier of human need, whatever that need may be, in a poetic love letter to sex work.
He read the essay on stage at his retirement party Bone Weary: A Fond Farewell to the Sex Trade at Goodhandy’s Nov 25.
“Prostitution has been the splendid discovery of my middle years,” he says.
Nov 27: As Gerald Hannon cheerily welcomed friends to his retirement party at Goodhandy’s Nov 25, video of a younger Hannon, wearing only a balaclava while masturbating, appeared on a screen behind him.
The backdrop to Hannon’s party, Bone Weary: A Fond Farewell to the Sex Trade, included a video montage of images from Hannon’s life during his years as a sex worker, put together by friend and video artist Peter Kingstone.
“They’re not all of me jerking off,” Hannon grinned. “There’s soft-core videos, art films, gay wrestling. There’s another of me on a pogo stick. I’m fully clothed in that one.”
BY ANDREA HOUSTON – Gerald Hannon almost convinced me to go into sex work.
I recently visited the award-winning Toronto journalist and retiring sex worker at his cozy Maitland Place apartment ahead of his big retirement party at Goodhandy’s tonight (Nov 25), and to research another story. We got talking about why he started selling sex in the first place.
Hannon entered the oldest profession for the oldest reason of all: money. “I had just left The Body Politic after 15 years. You don’t save any money working there, so I was broke.”
At the time, he was living communally in a house with five other men. “I wanted to live on my own. And I decided to be a freelance writer, which, as you know, that takes a while.”
Worried about what to do for income, he spoke to a friend, activist and sex worker Danny Cockerline (great name for a sex worker). “I was whining to him about how I’m going to make it as a journalist.”
Trans Day of Remembrance will be held Nov 18th at the 519 from 7-9pm.
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A sex-work advocacy organization says residents living on or near Homewood Ave should take their complaints about sex workers to those politicians who continue to criminalize prostitution.
About 30 local residents blamed sex workers for damage to private property and late-night noise at an Oct 12 meeting with Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
“The problem here is the law, not sex workers,” says Chanelle Gallant, a sex worker and the communications coordinator for Maggie’s, a Toronto sex workers’ organization. “Residents should take their concerns up with the lawmakers who have put sex workers in the situation where they can’t exert any control over their work.”