Key Principles

Sex Workers Action Network (SWAN) Participation

Acknowledging Fundamental Systemic Issues

SWAN uses a feminist, intersectional approach in our work that recognises the systemic structures that promote the marginalization of sex workers. Sex workers often experience intersecting oppressions including, but not limited to: sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, and classism.

This oppression increases sex workers’ vulnerabilities to violence and creates barriers to sex workers reaching out and receiving the support they need. Women, youth, and people who are transgender, and/or otherwise gender-variant in particular, are most often the ones negatively impacted in sex work.

To this end, SWAN will seek out, identify and address systemic oppression of sex workers to the best of its ability.


Advocacy will be undertaken around specific issues and may result in 1) supporting individual member agencies to undertake advocacy, and/or 2) advocacy efforts that support SWAN efforts.


While acknowledging the systemic issues, SWAN recognizes and understands that individuals may be engaged in sex work regardless of identity.


SWAN supports the decriminalization of sex work as the policy approach that:

(1) offers the greatest potential for prevention through appropriate social supports

(2) according to research evidence produces the least harm and provides the greatest opportunities for safety and

(3) best aligns with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the concept of the Common Good.


Members are to be respectful of the need for privacy of other members of SWAN.

All members must respect confidentiality of discussions that occur at and between meetings.

Recognizing the Harms of Conflating Sex Work and Sex Trafficking

Human trafficking is an egregious human rights violation involving the threat or use of force, abduction, deception, or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploitation. Sex work is a consensual transaction, where the act of selling or buying sexual services is not a violation of human rights. Conflating sex trafficking with sex work is harmful and erroneous.


SWAN will not discuss potentially illegal matters that could place members in a compromising position (i.e. unintentional criminalization).

Street Involved Sex Work

The immediate focus of SWAN is toward those engaged in street involved sex work, with the intention to broaden the focus to those engaged in sex work “off the street” in the future.  However, it is recognized that individuals face different challenges and we will honour and respect all those with lived experience.