December 13, 1999 05:54pm
Canadian Supreme Court allows some lap dancing
by: Randall Palmer
(OTTAWA) -- Canada's highest court has given lap dancing its seal of approval.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Monday that certain nude lap dancers did not violate community standards, despite an earlier judgment against the practice which involves paying for individual dances at strip bars.
The court acquitted Therese Blais Pelletier, the co-owner of a strip bar, of keeping a bawdy house -- a place of sex for money -- despite the fact that erotic lap dances were being performed in an open cubicle for money.
"The dancers were required to follow the appellant's (Pelletier's) rule against touching clients, but clients were allowed to touch the dancers' buttocks and breasts," according to a statement presented by the Supreme Court.
The court heard the case on Monday and ordered an immediate 3-2 acquittal, with full reasons to follow months later.
The two female judges who heard the case voted for the acquittal, including new Justice Louis Arbour, fresh from prosecuting Yugoslav war crimes.
Arbour said that although the original trial judge had not had the benefit of subsequent Supreme Court decisions, he had "attentively examined all the factors regarding the standard of tolerance, which he carefully weighed."
In particular, she noted, the judge had looked at the nature of the sexual touching between the dancers and the two undercover policemen who had bought the dances.
In the court's 1997 decision, Justice John Sopinka wrote for the majority that the lap dancing was done for all to see and the activities were "indecent insofar as they involved sexual touching between dancer and patron."
"Patrons...could, for a fee, fondle and touch women and be fondled in an intimately sexual manner, including mutual masturbation and apparent cunnilingus, in a public tavern."
In Monday's ruling Justice Frank Iacobucci disagreed with his fellow judges. "We find the behavior indecent... particularly because of the sexual contact between the dancer and her patron and because of the fact that the acts were not in private."