Little Sister's Book and Art Emporium - WikipediaLittle Sisters v. Canada Customs involved a gay and lesbian bookstore in Vancouver which for over ten years had had most of its shipments stopped by Customs agents at the Canada-U. The bookstore launched a constitutional challenge to its treatment at the hands of Canada Customs on the basis of freedom of expression and the right to equality without discrimination. Shipments of identical books and magazines cleared Customs without delay when ordered by other bookstores. LEAF intervened in the case when it was heard in March, This case was important to LEAF because it involved discrimination against lesbians and required analysis of the meaning of obscenity law.
Little Sisters Book & Art Emporium et al. v. Minister of Justice et al.
Civil Liberties Association ,. It was held that the Customs Act , which gave broad powers to customs inspectors to exclude "obscene" materials, violated the right to freedom of expression under section 2 but was justifiable under section 1. It imports most of its material from the United States, which often caused trouble at the border when material was classified as obscene by Canada Customs and was thus refused entry. The bookstore challenged the provision of the Customs Act prohibiting the importation of obscene material as well as a section of the Act that put the onus on the importer to disprove obscenity. At trial, the court found that the customs has targeted shipments to the bookstore and attempted to prevent their entry into Canada.
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Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v. Scholars and philosophers spend much of their time discussing what pornography means and whether it can be defined. This debate persists despite the fact that most men, regardless of their sexual orientation, seem to understand quite well what pornography is, and what it is for: they produce it commercially, buy it in magazines, rent it in videos, and search for it on the Internet. The pornography industry has the distinct advantage of selling a product that, in legal terms, is considered "expression," and therefore a product that has been declared worthy of constitutional protection under section 2 b of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Minister of Justice challenges the interest of those who want the traffic in pornography to be completely unregulated. Fortunately, the Court in Little Sisters recognized pornography for what it is — the practice of sex inequality — and held that gays and lesbians were no less entitled to legal protections that attempt to limit the inequality that pornography inflicts. The author believes the explanation for this result can be found in the reasons why the Court unanimously recognized that same-sex pornography threatens, rather than promotes, equality rights.
The bookstore is famous for being embroiled in a legal battle with the Canada Border Services Agency over the importation of what the agency has labeled " obscene materials". The same publications, when destined for mainstream booksellers in the country, had often been delivered without delay or question. Not to mention that five out of ten provinces plus one of the two territories explicitly forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation. Little Sister's filed their claim against the federal government in , but the case stalled and was not heard until October The court found that Little Sister's shipments had been wrongly delayed or withheld due to the "systemic targeting of Little Sisters' importations in the Customs Mail Center. In , the case was heard in the Supreme Court of Canada.