Supreme Court Hearings - Att Gen of Cda v Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society
Attorney General of Canada v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society and Sheryl Kiselbach (January 19, 2012)
Sheryl Kiselbach is a former sex worker with 30 years experience who joined the society with its constitutional challenge of federal prostitution laws. At issue in this appeal is whether the respondents have public interest standing to proceed with their legal challenge.
Public interest standing is granted where an issue is serious and it has been raised by a party with a direct or genuine interest. It is also granted where there is no other reasonable or effective way for the issue to come before the court.
In 2007, the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society (SWUAV) launched a Charter challenge of several prostitution-related laws. SWUAV is a registered non-profit organization made up of current and former female sex workers from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.
The federal government argues that SWUAV is not directly affected by the law, nor is Kiselbach, who is no longer a sex trade worker. The B.C Supreme Court dismissed the claim in 2008 because it found that the respondents did not have public interest standing.