Northern Irish Assembly Votes To Make Buying Sex Illegal

Well, it was probably inevitable. After months and months of testimony, the Northern Irish Assembly has decided to make paying for sex illegal.

Blonde woman on bed in underwear

MLA’s spent voted by 81 votes to 10 in favour of supporting the private members bill which seeks to stop human trafficking and exploitation.

Clause six of the bill makes it illegal for someone to obtain sexual services in exchange for payment.

It is important to clarify that the vote doesn’t mean that buying sex is illegal today, but the day that happens has certainly come a lot closer.

Lot’s of Support

Lord Morrow’s bill has gained a lot of support from well meaning people who want to see the abuse of men and women come to an end. However, many groups who actually deal with with the issue on a day to day basis feel that the law will be at best difficult to enforce, and at worse, counter-productive.

Outside the assembly, a number of sex workers, who all had their faces covered made their opposition to the Morrow bill clear.

Sex worker Laura Lee said Northern Ireland would regret the move.

“I think it will be absolutely disgraceful and I think that we’ll be able to show it as the failed model for what it is and we’ll be the laughing stock of Europe,” she said.

Couple kissing

One victim of human trafficking who used the name ‘Anna’ rejected the idea that the law would just force sex workers underground.

“The people who are saying that these laws, if they are put in place, would force it underground, I would say they are just trying to create panic when there is not any reason to panic because this is already underground,” she said.

“The only thing which would go underground would be the sex industry which would have to lose major income.”

Problems With The Law

I would have to disagree with her point there. Sites like Escort Ireland are open about what they do and have a hugely beneficial effect on the industry. They have many measures in place which seek to prevent anyone being forced to work against their will, and fully support the Ugly Mugs scheme which helps warn escorts about dodgy or dangerous clients.

Another issue I have is the fact that it may stop clients reporting people they think are being trafficked. As things stand, if someone turns up at the door and suspects something iffy is going on, they can leave and report what is happening to the authorities. I seriously wonder whether people will take that kind of action if they are themselves committing a ‘crime’? This is likely to actually cause more hardship than it stops.

I also struggle to see how the police are going to enforce the law. Let’s get something straight, the authorities are already stretched thin. Are they really going to sit outside sex workers houses waiting to bust punters when there are murderers, robbers and rapists knocking around? If they do, they certainly shouldn’t be.

This leads onto the debate as to whether this will stop people visiting sex workers. Many believe that after a while, punters will realise that they aren’t going to get into any trouble, and will continue visiting escorts. This is all conjecture, but is is definitely the belief of many sex workers.

Well Meaning, But Wrong

Despite a reported 80% of people in Northern Ireland backing the law, it is no secret that Escort Ireland doesn’t back the law for those reasons. For those who are not dealing with escorting and sex workers, banning the purchase of sex probably sounds like a very good idea. It would take a hard hearted person to hear stories of human trafficking and not be moved and want to see some action taken. However, those who deal with the reality know it isn’t the right way to go.

There are of course those who just want to see this law come in because they dislike the whole concept of sex work. I would happily counter that by saying that safety should always take precedent over morality.

Escort Ireland will continue to do everything it can to combat human trafficking. We hate it as much as Lord Morrow. The only difference is that we believe this scourge should be combated differently.

Martin Ward
Follow me

Martin Ward

Martin Ward is a well respected editor and writer with over five years experience in the adult industry. After stints in the Escort Advertising call centre and on the escort forum, he moved into the site editor position around three years ago.

Since then, he has specialised in articles on the battle for equal rights for sex workers, sexual health, as well as bringing the readers fun news from around the world. He also has a major interest in LGBT rights, and is an active campaigner in this field.

When he isn't fighting the good fight, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, and young daughter. He also enjoys reading and taking long walks.
Martin Ward
Follow me

Please log in here to leave a comment.