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Supreme Court will hear B.C. sex worker challenge to prostitution law

A prostitute looks for customers in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside on Feb. 9, 2009.

JOHN LEHMANN/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The Supreme Court has decided to weigh in on the legality of Canada's anti-prostitution law.

The high court granted the leave application brought by the federal attorney general in the case involving Vancouver's Downtown Eastside sex workers.

Last fall, the B.C. Court of Appeal set aside a lower court ruling that said the sex workers did not have standing to challenge the case.

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The B.C. attorney general appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now decided to hear the case.

A retired B.C. prostitute and a group representing sex-trade workers on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside launched the case in 2007, arguing that Canada's prostitution law forces sex workers onto the streets, where they face an increased risk of violence.

Prostitution in Canada is technically legal, but there are prohibitions on keeping a bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution or living off the avails of prostitution.

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