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Prostitute Laura Lee in legal action against sex law

By Deborah McAleese

Published 21/05/2015

Fight: Laura Lee
Fight: Laura Lee

Men who use prostitutes face up to a year in prison under new laws to criminalise payment for sex.

Next month Northern Ireland becomes the only part of the UK where paying for the services of a prostitute is a criminal offence.

The Department of Justice said that, as part of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act, it will be an offence to obtain sexual services for payment.

The new law removes criminality from prostitutes soliciting in a street or public place. However, it remains an offence to keep or manage a brothel.

More than 17,000 people here reportedly pay for sex each year.

A high-profile sex worker intends to launch legal action against the new law. Laura Lee said she will launch her case at Belfast's High Court after June and is prepared to take her fight all the way to the European courts in Strasbourg.

"I believe that when two consenting adults have sex behind closed doors and if money changes hands, then that is none of the State's business," she said.

"Sex workers' lives will actually be harder and the industry will be pushed underground."

Read more:

Almost one in ten men have paid for sex, all-Ireland poll reveals  

Sex worker Laura fighting to keep her business within law  

Northern Ireland to be first part of UK to criminalise paying for sex  

Why I despair at new alliance of our moral zealots  

Human Trafficking Bill: Stormont vote has done sex workers a real disservice

Only one way to beat human trafficking: Bill is textbook example of spin over substance  

Prostitution crackdown in Northern Ireland 'will put sex workers at higher risk'  

Stormont bans paying for sex as bulk of our MLAs support clause  

17,000 use prostitutes in Northern Ireland each year, says new study  

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