This article was published on April 10th, 2021
Sex work has always been a hot button issue worldwide, and in Canada, there are a myriad of problems they must face as a collective has emerged to contest the current laws in the country. As the global pandemic continues to affect the country, there has been an additional push for more rights for sex works, especially now as more gay men have turned to sex workers and as more gay men have entered into the field as a source of income.
The stigma around sex work is being dispelled and these new attitudes are set to transform the industry forever. HomoCulture breaks down the obstacles sex workers face, the most popular sites, and what the future holds for the industry in regards to legislative rights.
Addressing The Issues Sex Workers Face
There are many misconceptions about sex workers and the increased risks to their safety and overall health, but the primary challenges include violence, and obstacles to gaining access to legal assistance, social services, and health care. Additionally, Canada’s current laws on the book criminalize those involved in the sex industry, which posits serious implications for those working in the field.
In research studies, more than half of sex workers have reported abuse from client or from law enforcement, another thorny issue that has repeatedly been swept under the rug for decades despite the protests of sex worker advocates. As it stands, sex workers don’t possess much agency as the work has yet to be decriminalized, which means they are unable to form unions and leverage negotiation power. The loss of many sites to advertise has resulted in many sex workers diverting their money and ads to other sites that provide more support and protection from litigation.
Sex Worker Sites in Canada for Gay Men
During the global pandemic, people are more isolated and lonely, and sex workers are providing a valuable service for not only their regular clients, but also for men that ordinarily do not turn to such services to fulfill their sexual and emotional needs. The most popular sites, RentMen.com and LeosList have been mainstays in Canada for years and both have dramatically curbed the shame that is typically associated with such work. Both are known for proving an avenue for members to look up and schedule time with an assortment of sex workers that offer various services from massage to S&M and everything in between.
As it has become increasingly more difficult for some to remain at home to flatten the curve, Rent.Men has provided ways for sex workers to set up their profiles to show the most secure and safest ways to make bookings and offer their services. Indeed, the site aims to be a better website for members to spend their isolation time and protect the health and safety of the general public.
For those that are more interested in video conferencing services as opposed to meeting in person, Just For Fans and OnlyFans have both emerged as popular sites for many sex workers to advertise themselves and produce digital content that can be purchased discreetly at home. These sites have created a watershed moment in the sex worker industry, and many have joined the site to stay in contact with their clients during the pandemic and also gain a larger following.
Another unforeseen circumstance of the pandemic has been the amount of gay men that have signed up for the service as new sex workers looking for supplemental income as the economy hangs in the balance. These new workers are now learning the ins and outs of the industry firsthand and as a result are battling against the stigmas and pushing for decriminalization in an attempt to legitimize a billion dollar industry.
The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform Makes a Challenge
Aligning with 25 sex worker rights groups in the country, the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform is seeking to strike down sex work prohibitions which they proclaim violate sex workers’ constitutional rights to liberty, freedome of expression, security, and equality. The movement makes clear that sex workers are intent on breaking down the current status quo that makes the group susceptible to eviction, exploitation, volatile working conditions, and targets for violence.
Until the regulations around sex workers continues to be criminalized and their community marginalized, there will continue to be a battle to be included in social programs and labor protections that will elevate their standing across the board.