Deborah Gyapong: Swingers clubs legal says highest court

Swingers clubs legal says highest court

In Canada it's okay to take your spouse to a club charging membership fees and engage in sex with someone else's spouse. These sex acts often take place in front of spectators, or become group sex, otherwise known as orgies.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, the behavior behind closed doors of these adults,in what would have been termed a "common bawdy house" causes no harm to society, or to the individuals involved.

Just before Christmas, Canada's highest court replaced the former community standards approach to determining indecency and replaced it with a harm-based standard.

The decisions can be found here and here.

Despite the Christmas break, response to the decision has come from various quarters, and will continue to come.

Real Women of Canada's Gwen Landolt told

"There is a real trend to break down moral principles in Canadian society. Those principles have been built based on human experience about what is in the best interest of society."

The Institute for Canadian Values issued a news release saying in part:

"It's as outrageous as it is arrogant," said Joseph Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the ICV. "The very question of what is or is not indecent public behaviour is a moral question. These judges aren't setting aside the moral issue, they're imposing their morality of the rest of us."

"This is a political issue, not a judicial one," said Ben-Ami. "Canadians have an absolute right, through their elected officials, to establish and enforce public standards. What the Supreme Court is saying with this decision is: no - Canadians are not qualified to decide what is or is not acceptable behaviour in their neighbourhoods, so we will do it for them."

"We’re not talking here about a few adults engaging in sexual activities in the privacy of their own homes," explained Ben-Ami. "We’re talking about organized orgy clubs with dozens of adults participating. I wonder which of those Supreme Court Justices who voted in favour of this ruling will be the first to welcome one of these clubs to their neighbourhood?"

Richard Bastien of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) submitted an op ed to the Ottawa Citizen. You can read his response here.

Bastien wrote:

The judgment rendered by Beverly McLachlin is flawed not only because it suggests that laws can be devoid of any moral basis but, more importantly, because it is inherently inconsistent. People who insist upon upholding the concept of moral neutralism (i.e. the notion that there are no universal objective moral standards by which our behavior can be judged) are themselves non-neutral.

It is logically impossible to commit to neutralism without committing to a particular value, whether it is social peace, tolerance, multiculturalism, individualism, etc. Any such commitment entails a violation of neutralism. This points to an even deeper problem, which is that there can be no such thing as moral neutrality. The problem is not that neutralism is something difficult to achieve. The problem is that it is unachievable. And it is unachievable because it is inconceivable. It is simply impossible to make statements about social life without expressing some kind of preference about the criteria that should govern such life. In short, neutralism is for cranks.

The CCRL has also posted Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) law and policy director Janet Epp Buckingham's Dec. 27 Globe and Mail Op Ed here.

Buckingham wrote:

This decision clearly establishes the courts as the new arbiters of public morality. They have cut out Canadian society and the concerns of ordinary Canadians.

and this:

Swingers’ clubs will now be able to advertise publicly and encourage more couples to consider consensual adultery. Some marriages and relationships will likely not survive this sexual experimentation.

Strip clubs will now be able to feature public sex acts unless there is “harm” shown. And only the courts can determine what is “harmful.”

Bath houses and massage parlours will be able to operate as legitimate businesses, publicly offering sexual services, unless someone can prove “harm.” And only the courts can determine what is “harmful.”

The liberalization of public sexuality, which also includes pornography, objectifies sex. It is no longer an act of emotional intimacy, but simply physical gratification. Over the last year, I have noticed an increasing number of news articles and commentaries expressing concern over sexual activities of young teens, including anti-social and inappropriate sexual activities. There are worrying trends that can be linked to increased exposure to public sexuality.

The Centre for Cultural Renewal is doing a LexView legal analysis. I'll post a link when it is done. In the meantime, check out the Iain Benson's blog on Chief Justice Beverly McLaclin's recent speech in New Zealand on the underlying principles behind the law.

Benson writes:

Now if law is a replacement theology in the contemporary era - - as some seem to think and talk (how else can "law" be a "comprehensive" claim to meaning in any sense?) it ought not to surprise us that it will be subject to the same "theocratic" temptation religions faced and face.

Thus, the assumption of eventual agreement and of the constitution's capacity to get us there "with a little help from its judicial midwives" based upon a confidence that law has ultimate capacity to answer ultimate questions is the real problem not whether a principle is or is not within the written law or whether a judge is or is not "emboldened."

Expect to hear more about this decision.



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