A Bill outlawing the purchase of sex has been passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly, making the Province the first part of the UK to bring in such legislation.
Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill also makes provisions for statutory victim care and child trafficking guardians, aimed at strengthening support services.
DUP Peer Lord Morrow told the Assembly his Christian faith was his motivation for bringing forward the legislation.
Christian charity CARE, said this is a “landmark moment in the fight against modern day slavery”.
CARE’s Northern Ireland Policy Officer Mark Baillie said the Bill “tackles one of the root causes of trafficking, namely paying for sex”.
“Lord Morrow has worked tirelessly over the last 18 months to steer the legislation through and the level of dedication and determination he has shown is hugely commendable.
“It is clear there is a growing international consensus to tackle the problem of human trafficking through law and Northern Ireland is now an example for other countries to follow”, he added.
Currently under the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008, paying for sexual services is only an offence if it can be proved that violence, threats, coercion or deception have been used.
Certain other activities such as running a brothel and kerb-crawling are also illegal.
The Bill has passed its final stage and is now awaiting Royal Assent before becoming law.