The state is still in the bedrooms of the nation: The control and regulation of sexuality in Canadian criminal law

Young, Alan
September 2008
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2008, Vol. 17 Issue 4, p203
Academic Journal
Canada has seen a considerable relaxing of linguistic and visual taboos related to sexuality over the past 50 years. This article explores the response of modern criminal law to such changes with particular emphasis on the inability of obscenity and indecency laws to resist the emergence of highly sexualized materials in society and the lack of any meaningful legal reform in our laws on prostitution. Case examples and legal precedents are drawn upon to illustrate a variety of sexuality-related issues grappled with by legislators, politicians and society in seeking to determine what sexual practices should be prohibited. Canadian laws on prostitution, which put sex workers at risk without significantly diminishing the incidence of the phenomenon, are considered in terms of the rationale for legislated regulation in this domain. An overarching theme in this and other such examples is the role of criminal legislation in addressing the tension between private sexual morality and public policy in a pluralistic society.


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