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Former sex-trade worker takes on Canada's sex laws

A retired prostitute launched an appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that denied her constitutional challenge because she is not active in the sex trade and no active worker would join her.

Judge William Ehrcke ruled in December 2008 that plaintiff Sheri Kiselbach had no direct standing to launch a challenge to existing prostitution laws because she isn't facing criminal charges and her past convictions are not relevant.

“I feel I have the right, even though I'm out of sex work, to be an expert on this issue,” Kiselbach said Thursday outside the B.C. Court of Appeal.

“My experiences in sex work are still as valid today as they are for other sex workers who are working right now.”

Kiselbach's attorney Katrina Pacey with Pivot Legal LLP argues it's unreasonable to ask active sex workers to come forward because the sex industry is relatively underground and criminalized.

“Today what the court is going to hear is why various sex workers cannot come forward as individuals and why the representatives before the court are really appropriate for representing sex workers interests and their goals,” Pacey said.

“What the case is actually about in the long-term is the way that criminal laws that relate to adult prostitution violate the safety, and the liberty and the equality of sex trade workers.”

The B.C. Court of Appeal will hear from Kiselbach Thursday and Friday.

It could be months before the appeals court makes a ruling.

Dharm Makwana reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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