Groundbreaking Legal Opinion Finds Government Bill, “likely to violate the human rights of sex workers”

Today 4th October SWAI (Sex Workers Alliance Ireland) release a pivotal legal opinion by Senior Counsel Michael Lynn B.L. on Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 which deals with sex work. The Bill is scheduled for debate in the Dail this week.

Kate McGrew, Coordinator of SWAI, said: “This expert legal opinion clarifies that Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill does not decriminalise sex workers. The opinion outlines how the measures in the Bill will actually force people to work alone in more isolated areas to avoid arrest, and will increase risk of abuse and violence. The opinion also highlights how this law will impact sex workers’ health and access to justice, particularly acting as a barrier to engaging with Gardaí.”

Speaking before the launch of the legal opinion in Dublin, Catherine Murphy, Policy Advisor, Amnesty International, said: “Amnesty International has spent 3 years researching the impact of laws such as those outlined in this Bill. We found that measures similar to those proposed by the Irish Government are proving to be ineffective and dangerous for sex workers in other countries. Our findings in Norway are particularly relevant for Ireland. Rather than making sex workers safer- sex workers continued to be criminalised and punished under the Nordic Model and this prevented them from being able to seek protection from police and increased their risk of harm”.


Notes for Editor

Legal Opinion:

Available for Interview:
Catherine Murphy, Policy Advisor, Amnesty International
Ph: 085 814 8986
Ph: 087 7677148

Summary of Legal Opinion Findings
· Opinion finds Part 4 of Bill “likely to violate the human rights of sex workers”.

· Sex workers working outdoors or together indoors for safety are not decriminalised under the Bill.

· There is no concrete evidence from Sweden or Norway that criminalising the purchase of sexual services decreases demand for prostitution.