Sex worker to launch legal challenge against Northern Ireland prostitution ban

Mar 23, 2015
Legal
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Laura Lee says new legislation that criminalizes the payment of sex among consenting adults is a breach of European human rights law

Sex worker to launch legal challenge against Northern Ireland prostitution ban

Laura Lee plans to fund the case partly via crowdfunding and from sex worker campaign groups across the world. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod

A sex worker is using European human rights legislation to try to overturn a new law in Northern Ireland that makes it illegal to pay for prostitutes.

Dublin-born law graduate Laura Lee is launching an unprecedented legal challenge that could go all the way to Strasbourg, against a human trafficking bill which includes banning the payment for sex among consenting adults.

Northern Ireland prostitution ban

The region is the only part of the UK where people can be convicted of paying for sex. The law, which was championed by Democratic Unionist peer and Stormont assembly member Lord Morrow, comes into effect on 1 June.

Lee told the Guardian she will launch her case at the high court in Belfast in the same month as the law comes into effect.

The justice minister, David Ford, has already warned that the Police Service of Northern Ireland may not be able to convict men contacting prostitutes for sex because intercept evidence from clients’ mobile phones would be inadmissible in the courts.

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