A former B.C. sex worker has been given the green light to challenge Canada’s red-light laws, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.

In a split 2-1 verdict, the province’s highest court found that Sheryl Kiselbach and SWUAV, a non-profit organization of street-based sex workers, have legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of the country’s adult prostitution laws.

“(The lawsuit) was necessary because things haven’t changed,” said Kiselbach, 59, who retired as a sex worker in 2001.

“I want them to be able to work safely … without being afraid of the law and afraid to report violence.”

While prostitution is not illegal in Canada, many of the activities associated with it are, including communicating and keeping a bawdy house or brothel.

Kiselbach’s case, which was filed in August 2007, was kiboshed before it went to trial after the federal government successfully argued that neither Kiselbach nor SWUAV had legal standing.

Her appeal led to yesterday’s decision.

Katrina Pacey, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society, said Canada’s prostitution laws endanger sex workers and exacerbate their marginalization.