The leader of the Green Party, Alex Tyrrell, Halimatou Bah, deputy leader and candidate in Sanguinet, as well as Jamie D’Souza, candidate in Rosemont, took the floor this Thursday in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, to present the party’s position and demands to better regulate prostitution and legislate street harassment. This is a very important announcement for the party as it is a feminist political party and demands social justice. The GPQ does not wish to promote sex work, but it does wish to limit the violence against sex workers and the precarious situations they often face.
The murder of Marylène Levesque, a sex worker killed by one of her clients, and the numerous feminicides in Quebec have highlighted the insecurity present in the sex work environment. In response to this problem of violence against sex workers, the Green Party of Quebec believes that the safety of women and men in the sex trade can be better guaranteed by decriminalizing prostitution at the federal level, which would allow the provincial government to regulate prostitution, drastically reduce cases of abuse and human trafficking, and reduce violence against women. The party is convinced that such an approach, which can already be found in some European countries, will also make it possible to regulate this sector of activity through labour law, thus improving the working conditions of sex workers in general by granting them rights, dignity and access to essential services, including physical and mental health care better adapted to their realities.
Sex workers are often in precarious situations and want to make a safe living from their work without being criminalized. The current criminalization of sex workers feeds the stigmatization of sex workers, reinforces the dynamics of violence, human trafficking, police repression, systemic racism and discrimination while generating important profits for organized crime and pimps. Like drugs, sex work cannot be eliminated by criminalizing it. This reality, combined with the violence against sex workers, forces us as a society to change our approach to protect vulnerable people. The Green Party of Quebec wants to allow sex workers greater autonomy in their workplace decisions, greater respect for their bodies, their decisions and their fundamental rights in order to reduce violence.
The GPQ believes that street harassment is rarely punished; the severity is sometimes not enough to lead to criminal convictions, but it should still be illegal. For this reason, the Green Party of Quebec is proposing the implementation of a provincial law (outside of the Criminal Code) that will impose fines on those who are found guilty of making vulgar and unsolicited sexual comments in public places to people they do not know. The implementation of this law would work in a similar way to the punishment for illegal street crossing. This measure would be both symbolic, to clearly place street harassment outside the social norm, and practical, in cases where the police witness street harassment firsthand and can intervene. The goal is to support survivors of sexual assault and harassment and to crack down on violence against women.