On Saturday (June 13), people are being encouraged to look sexy for a very serious protest.
The annual Red Umbrella marches will take place across the country to raise awareness about the life-or-death consequences of the Conservative government criminalizing the sale of sex.
The Vancouver demonstration begins at 2:30 with speeches on the Robson Street side of the Vancouver Art Gallery. At 3 p.m., participants will walk from there through the Downtown Eastside, where dozens of sex workers have gone missing and been murdered.
If you don't want to wear skimpy clothes, you can also support the cause by wearing red and/or carrying a red umbrella, which has long been a symbol of safety for sex workers.
As a result of legislation introduced by Justice Minister Peter MacKay, anybody, including a spouse, is prohibited from receiving a "material benefit" from sexual services. In addition, clients are vulnerable to prosecution for paying for sexual services.
Incredibly, MacKay didn't even define what constitutes a sexual service, creating uncertainty within the industry.
The Vancouver demonstration is being organized by Triple-X Workers' Solidarity Association of B.C., Downtown Eastside Sex Workers Against Violence, Pivot Legal Society, PACE Society, B.C. Coalition of Experiential Communities, and FIRST: Feminists Advocating for the Decriminalization of Sex Work.
"To even discuss obtaining sexual services with anyone in any place—including on the telephone or Internet—is now a crime, leaving our clients vulnerable to police entrapment stings," the groups say in a news release.
Working conditions are protected by legislation in most occupations. However, those in the sex trade say the government is actually making it more dangerous for them to make a living.
They insist that the law violates sex workers' charter rights, including freedom of association and freedom of expression. And they maintain that this will drive the sex trade underground, providing greater opportunities for predators.
It's one reason why some have referred to MacKay's legislation as the Willie Pickton law.
The legislation was introduced after the Supreme Court of Canada had ruled that three prostitution-related laws were unconstitutional. That's because they violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms' guarantees of freedom of expression and security of the person.
Groups advocating on behalf of sex workers say that the new law creates even more dangerous conditions because unlike in the past, the sale of sex is now illegal.