Resolutions to the General Conference

The Free Methodist Church in Canada                       [download pdf]

Reform of Prostitution Laws of Canada

WHEREAS the Free Methodist movement has an historic commitment to the deep worth of all persons, and has stood squarely for freedom from human slavery and exploitation in all of its forms, everywhere;

WHEREAS the Free Methodist Church in Canada is “pledged to active concern whenever human beings are demeaned, abused, depersonalized, or subjected to demonic forces in the world, whether by individuals or institutions (Galatians 3:28; Mark 2:27) … and … committed to give meaning and signifi-cance to every person by God’s help” (¶630.2.1, The Manual of the Free Methodist Church in Canada);

WHEREAS we believe that human bodies are not commodities to be bought and sold, but prostitution and commercial sexual services in Canada and globally are highly characterized by slavery and exploitation through human trafficking, manipulation and coercion of services providers, and abuse of relationships of trust;

WHEREAS we understand that prostitution and trafficking victimize vulnerable women and minors in particular, and that such exploitation threatens the welfare and safety of communities across Canada;

WHEREAS the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in December 2013 that criminal law regarding the operation of a common bawdy house or brothel, living on the avails of prostitution, and communicating for the purposes of prostitution are unconstitutional and has given Parliament one year to approve a new legislative scheme before the old laws lapse;

WHEREAS the federal Government is drafting new prostitution legislation and is inviting public input;

WHEREAS one of the goals of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is the elimination of all forms of sexual exploitation in Canada and to that end has released a comprehensive report proposing fundamental reform to Canada’s prostitution laws, entitled Out of Business: Prostitution in Canada – Putting an End to Demand ;

WHEREAS the reform proposed in Out of Business has adapted the Nordic model of law and policy on prostitution, to work within Canada’s constitutional requirements, with two broad objectives:  (i) eliminate the “pull factors” that draw people into prostitution—including demand from sex buyers and manipulation by pimps, and (ii) in cooperation with civil society and the charitable sector, provide assistance, such as drug rehabilitation, trauma counseling and job retraining, to help people escape prostitution;

WHEREAS for Canada, this model means that new laws must be established to address the root causes of prostitution and provide help for those leaving prostitution, thus undermining the viability of the trade itself, and whereas Canada’s current laws and policies fall short in reaching these goals, Out of Business includes these key recommendations in the model of reform:
•    Criminalize the purchase and attempted purchase of sex from any person—whether from escort services, in brothels, or on the street, and by any form of payment—as a means to eliminate the demand and the activities of pimps and human traffickers
•    Maintain prohibitions against acts of any third party attempting to profit from sexual exploitation including procuring for the purpose of prostitution, operation of brothels, and other organized forms of prostitution  
•    Amend our laws to reflect the non-criminal nature of individuals who are being prostituted
•    Invest in exit programs and support for persons being prostituted or trafficked
•    Initiate a public awareness campaign to accompany such a change in the law, designed to help reshape attitudes about prostitution as a manifestation of inequality and violence against women and minors;

WHEREAS the Nordic model, first enacted in Sweden in 1999, is one of the most coherent and successful prostitution policy models ever developed  and has proven successful in reducing rates of prostitution and sex trafficking and has been replicated in Norway and Iceland, and whereas The Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand are rethinking their approach of legalization, decriminalization and efforts at regulation, and Israel, Ireland and Scotland are taking steps toward laws targeting the purchase of sex, and France’s Parliament has voted in favour of proceeding with legislation that would impose strict fines on individuals who purchase or attempt to purchase sexual services;

WHEREAS the Free Methodist Church in Canada is a longstanding member of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and supports EFC’s initiatives to gather Evangelicals together for influence, impact and identity in ministry and for ensuring a constructive voice and public witness for biblical principles in life and society; and

WHEREAS the Free Methodist Church in Canada joins with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada in expressing concern for the prostituted based on biblical principles that compel care for the vulnerable and inform the duty of care we owe one another as human beings;

Therefore, be it resolved that:

1. The Free Methodist Church in Canada strongly supports the reform of prostitution law as proposed in “Out of Business: Prostitution in Canada – Putting an End to Demand,” a 2013 report of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and the inclusion of a Canadian version of Nordic Model law on prostitution within legislation being introduced to Parliament in 2014;

2. The Free Methodist Church in Canada immediately communicate this Resolution to leaders and offices of the federal Government engaged in conceiving and drafting the legislation, and that the pastor and Board of each local Free Methodist church in Canada immediately communicate and affirm the Resolution to their respective Member of Parliament;

3.  The leaders of each local Free Methodist church in Canada commit to dialogue with their local law enforcement service and local victim services agency to learn about the impact of prostitution and human trafficking in their area and how the church congregation and individuals may be supportive of victims of exploitation, abuse and control through measures such as safe houses and programs for physical and spiritual restoration.

4. The Free Methodist Church in Canada establish an ad hoc committee to dialogue and strategize about next steps for further church involvement nationally and locally in the fostering of holistic freedom from slavery and trafficking, and move forward in coordination with existing ministries and services of the church. 
5. The Free Methodist Church in Canada and local congregations designate the first Sunday of Lent each year to celebrate Freedom Sunday.
Submitted by:    Grant Sigsworth, Whitby Free Methodist Church
Sponsors:    Rev Cliff Fletcher, Rev Vic Stonehouse