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Ireland's ban on the purchase of sex will be challenged by a sex worker

Northern Ireland brought in new laws first and the Republic has followed.

A sex worker at a brothel in Hamburg, Germany.
A sex worker at a brothel in Hamburg, Germany.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

A SEX WORKER is to challenge Northern Ireland’s sex buyer legislation in Europe and will consider the same in the Republic when laws come into effect here.

Dublin-born law graduate Laura Lee says she and other campaigners intend to examine a number of grounds on which to challenge the new laws.

These include European legislation that protects the right to privacy, the right to life, the right to be free from degrading treatment and the right to earn a living.

The laws were passed last year and are set to come into effect from June. They make it illegal to pay for sex and were proposed by the Democratic Unionist Party.

A survey by Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice showed that 98% of sex workers were against the new laws.

Lee says the opposition is because the rules will make things more dangerous for sex workers. She explains that this is what happened when stricter anti-prostitution laws were brought in Ireland in 1993.

“I’ve witnessed first hand how these issues happen because when the 1993 laws were brought in Dublin. It ended what was a brilliant relationship we had with the guards because they were on the streets chasing curb crawlers instead of protecting us women,” she says.

Justice Minster Frances Fitzgerald confirmed last November that the Irish government is to draft legislation that will make it a criminal offence to pay for sex.

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The legislation was championed by the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Turn Off The Red Light campaign who argue that targeting demand will fight sex trafficking.

“The two issues are being deliberately conflated,” Lee argues, adding that those in favour of the legislation have been misleading people about trafficking numbers.

“In the Republic of Ireland last year there was one conviction for trafficking and it was a women who was convicted.”

Lee is a member of the of Sex Worker’s Alliance Ireland and says she intends to challenge the proposed Irish legislation.

Read: Confirmed: It’s going to be illegal to purchase the services of a sex worker >

Read: Sex workers ‘fear for their safety’ if clients are criminalised >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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