Today Maggie’s is deeply proud to celebrate the 2nd Annual Sex Worker Pride recognizing the resilience, innovation, adaptability, and strength of our communities! We’re proud to join in a global celebration of sex workers and our movement for human rights.
This has been an extremely challenging year for sex workers globally. In the wake of criminalization, harmful laws, and violence against our communities, sex workers and our industries have been deeply impacted by the global health pandemic. In Canada, sex workers have been left behind and excluded from government aid and emergency benefits - particularly migrant sex workers, homeless sex workers, and Black and Indigenous communities of colour. This is one illustration of how harmful laws, social exclusion, and prejudice against sex workers harms our communities. In this context, sex workers have had to rely on ourselves, our peers, our trusted allies, and networks to resist and persist. This year has also been a moment of incredible growth as sex worker organizations lead a wide range of mutual aid projects: from expansive mutual aid emergency funds to food justice efforts. Our movement has proven that we keep each other safe.
Our livelihoods have been turned upside down by COVID-19. Many of us have been excluded from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit as well as other emergency benefits and government aid programs, yet our communities are criminalized and subject to heightened police surveillance and societal stigma for resuming our work. Black and Indigenous communities of colour, migrant sex workers, queer and trans sex workers, specifically Black trans women in our communities, continue to be disproportionately targeted and subject to violence, murder, assault, and arbitrary detention by law enforcement while the provincial government dismisses growing demands to defund the police and invest in social welfare programs. During this unprecedented time we've worked hard to show up for one another: transitioning our programs to virtual spaces to bring continued support, resources, and education to our community. In March we teamed up with Butterfly Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network to produce a Guideline for safer sex work during COVID-19, which has been distributed internationally, and together with the support of local sex workers and allies, Maggie’s and Butterfly launched Canada’s largest sex worker mutual-aid fund raising more than $130,000 for sex workers across Toronto and the GTA.
We have seen our collective power generate community care, mutual protection, and our continued movement for justice. We celebrate and take pride in sex work as legitimate and valuable labour, and demand decriminalization in Canada once and for all.