Canada's high court strikes down curbs on prostitution

Canada's Supreme Court on Friday struck down key portions of a law that effectively criminalized prostitution by banning brothels and soliciting on the streets, declaring this disproportionate.

But it stayed its ruling for one year to allow Parliament to consider whether or not impose other limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted.

This case was "not about whether prostitution should be legal or not," Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said in the landmark decision.

"They are about whether the laws Parliament has enacted on how prostitution may be carried out pass constitutional muster. I conclude that they do not."

"I would therefore make a suspended declaration of invalidity, returning the question of how to deal with prostitution to Parliament."

The legal challenge was brought by sex workers who argued that the restrictions on prostitution -- criminalizing keeping a bawdy-house, living on the avails of prostitution or soliciting sex in public -- put their safety at risk.

A lower court found the measures to be "arbitrary, overbroad or grossly disproportionate."

The top court agreed, saying the curbs infringe on prostitutes' "constitutional right to security of the person."