CRIMINALISING paying for sex in Northern Ireland could threaten the safety of prostitutes, Justice Minister David Ford has said.
And he added that the clause in Lord Maurice Morrow's draft Stormont legislation would be difficult to enforce and the police do not support it.
If a prosecution was undertaken the woman risked being intimidated by the purchaser of sex for going to the authorities.
Lord Morrow has insisted the law is vital to tackle human trafficking, arguing that outlawing payment would simplify the law and send a message to offenders.
Mr Ford told the Assembly: "I am not prepared to support a proposal which might take risks with the lives and wellbeing of other vulnerable individuals."
Lord Morrow argued his proposed legislation seeks to reduce demand for sexual services.
Mr Ford said: "The prosecution service sees difficulties. Many of the key voluntary groups also have reservations. As Justice Minister I cannot ignore these voices."
Lord Morrow's Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill will now go to an Assembly committee.