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Leave granted to judicially review law criminalising those who pay for sexual services

The High Court has granted leave for a judicial review against the Department of Justice, concerning the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (NI) 2015.  The legislation allows people to be convicted for paying for sexual services in Northern Ireland.  The legislation was introduced in 2015 by a private member’s bill.

The applicant, who is a sex worker, was granted leave to take the legal challenge on 28th September 2016.  She has alleged that the provisions breach rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination.  It was argued that the current law increases the danger of sex work in Northern Ireland.  The majority of sex workers are women and the legislation could potentially heighten the risk from clients who are using fake names to avoid identification.

The Attorney-General opposed the challenge.  A full hearing date is due to be set in December.

Read news report from the Guardian here.