Eight of Northern Ireland’s district councils and counting have voted to back proposed legislation which aims to combat human trafficking here, an MLA has said.
DUP MLA Brenda Hale revealed the voting pattern yesterday to coincide with the seventh annual EU Anti-Human Trafficking Day.
She said that so far no council has refused to back the Bill, proposed by her colleague Lord Morrow in the Assembly.
If backed by MLAs it will criminalise men who buy sex from women in prostitution.
The DUP, backed by Women’s Aid, believes this will undermine demand for trafficked women.
However, Amnesty International and Justice Minister David Ford oppose the tactic and believe it will be counterproductive.
Mrs Hale said: “Thus far Larne, Magherafelt, Banbridge, Castlereagh, Ballymena, Omagh, Lisburn and Newtownabbey councils have pledged their support to the passage of the Human Trafficking Bill being steered by my colleague, Lord Morrow.
“Representatives of every political party including Alliance, Sinn Fein, the SDLP, DUP, Ulster Unionists and independent councillors in the eight councils named have given their support and we hope more will do the same.”
Yesterday morning DUP MEP Diane Dodds and local anti-human trafficking organisation No More Traffik joined forces with Lord Morrow to host a breakfast to mark Anti-Human Trafficking Day.
Gemma Wilson of No More Traffik said: “We welcome the opportunity to take a stand along with many others today – the joining of our stories to those of men, women and children who have no voice is what will make a difference.”
Lord Morrow added: “Just as those in generations past stood against slavery we today have a responsibility to ensure that we oppose the modern day slavery which exists within our society.”