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Dublin: 1 °C Tuesday 22 January, 2019

Sex worker's challenge to NI prostitution laws delayed after political intervention

The case has been postponed until next month.

Laura Lee
Laura Lee
Image: Twitter

A HIGH COURT case against Northern Ireland’s sex laws has been adjourned after intervention from the First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Legislation that came into effect in June 2015 made it illegal to pay for sex in the region, making it the only part of the UK where that is the case.

Taking the case is Dublin-born sex worker and law graduate Laura Lee.

The BBC has reported that lawyers for Lee complained that the move from the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers (OFMDFM) was “grossly late”.

Speaking outside the court in Belfast today, Lee said that she was “disappointed” with the delay but that she understood that “due process must be followed”.

“I absolutely under no circumstances will I give up. Sex worker safety is too important,” she went on.

Lee’s case was seeking a judicial review of the new law.

The case is now set to be heard on 14 March.

The first arrest under the changed law was made back in November, when one man was arrested after the search of a brothel. 

In a statement this evening, the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) has said it fully supports Lee in her efforts and opposed the introduction of similar legislation in the Republic.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 was published in September and, if passed, would introduce similar measures south of the border.

Comments have been switched off as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

Read: Why is the world’s 29th richest person funding a campaign by Irish sex workers?

Also: Sex workers marched on Leinster House tonight

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