Canada Strikes Down Anti-Prostitution Laws; 10 Other Countries Where Prostitution Is Legal

Technically, prostitution already wasn't illegal in Canada. But in our logical neighbor's backyard, there were a lot of related activities that were classified as criminal offenses. On Friday, Canada's Supreme Court struck down anti-prostitution laws altogether — including rules against keeping a brothel. The Supreme Court decision found that the anti-prostitution laws violated Canada's guarantee to life, liberty, and security of the person. (Well there's the fundamental difference between our two countries.)

"[The ruling is] an unbelievably important day for the sex workers but also for human rights,” said Katrina Pacey, a lawyer for a group of downtown Vancouver prostitutes. “The court recognized that sex workers have the right to protect themselves and their safety."

Unfortunately for activists who view this new ruling as a major breakthrough, the law will not take effect immediately. It still gives Canadian Parliament a one-year reprieve to come up with new legislation in response, and until then, all prostitution activities and offenses will remain in the Criminal Code.

But Canada's not alone in decriminalizing sex work. Click on to see some of the many other countries (besides the Netherlands, everyone knows that one) which have legalized prostitution.


In 2002, Germany decided to change its prostitution laws in order to improve the legal situation and treatment of prostitutes. Brothels are also legal.


While individual prostitution is legal in Argentina, organized prostitution — like brothels, prostitution rings, and pimping — is not.


Prostitution in Austria is both legal and regulated. Based on a study from 2010, 78 percent of sex workers in Austria are foreigners and immigrants who aren’t originally from the country.


Since legislation passed in 2000, prostitution has been legal in Bangladesh.


In Armenia, prostitution is legal — but pimping and operating a brothel can land you in prison for up to 10 years.


In Turkey, prostitution is both legal and regulated, though prostitutes have to be registered with the government and get an ID card that shows the dates of doctor visits. It’s also mandatory for registered prostitutes to have regular health checks for STDs.


Since 1999, prostitution has been legal and regulated in Hungary — so long as prostitutes pay taxes and keep legal documents.


In Poland, prostitution is legal, but you can’t operate a brothels or any other form of pimping. The prostitution of minors is also prohibited.


Prostitution is legal in Finland, but you can’t solicit sex in a public space, or participate in brothels and prostitution rings.


Despite being extremely conservative on abortion, in the Republic of Ireland, prostitution is legal. That said, you cannot solicit sex in a public place, operate a brothel, or engage in other forms of pimping.