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Canadian court OK's group sex clubs

OTTAWA -- Group sex among consenting adults is neither prostitution nor a threat to society, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled yesterday as it lifted a ban on so-called swingers clubs.

In a ruling that changes the way Canadian courts determine what poses a threat to the population, the top court threw out the conviction of a Montreal man who ran a club where members could have group sex in a private room behind locked doors.

''Consensual conduct behind code-locked doors can hardly be supposed to jeopardize a society as vigorous and tolerant as Canadian society," said the opinion of the seven-to-two majority, written by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

The decision does not affect laws against prostitution because no money changed hands among the adults having sex.

The court was reviewing an appeal by Jean-Paul Labaye, who ran the L'Orage (Thunderstorm) club. He had been convicted in 1999 of running a ''bawdy house" -- defined as a place where prostitution or acts of public indecency took place.

Labaye, who is still running the club, said he would go ahead with a new venture with backing from a group of Florida investors.

''We hope clients will be more calm. This will probably lead the way to a good future," he told reporters, saying he was looking at adding a Jacuzzi and a swimming pool.

Labaye said he had about 2,000 regular clients who paid around $17 a year for a membership card.

Lawyers for Labaye and the owner of another Montreal swingers' club argued that consensual sex among groups of adults behind closed doors was neither indecent or a risk to society.

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