Ban on ‘sex-for-rent’ arrangements wins wide support in Dáil

Ban on 'sex-for-rent' arrangements wins wide support in Dáil

A proposed ban on exploitative “sex-for-rent” arrangements has moved closer to becoming law after a private member’s bill passed second stage in the Dáil yesterday with cross-party support.

The Ban on Sex for Rent Bill 2022, proposed by Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan, would introduce a specific criminal offence where someone asks for sex in lieu of rent or for reduced rent.

The bill would also create a specific criminal offence of advertising for sex in lieu of rent, both in respect of the individual placing the advert and the platform or publication facilitating the advert.

James Browne, minister of state in the Department of Justice, told TDs that the government agrees that sex-for-rent arrangements are “unacceptable and exploitative” and “should be a criminal offence”.

However, he said the bill “requires further precision and careful consideration in how it interacts with other legislation in the area of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence” and that justice minister Helen McEntee would be “happy to engage with the deputy to assess the best way to advance the principles of the bill”.

Mr O’Callaghan said: “It is welcome the minister, deputy McEntee, will engage with us on how the bill can be advanced. We have had helpful and constructive comments from the minister of state, deputy Browne, about the specifics of the legislation and specific areas the government wants to see addressed and improved.

“The key issue is that the government has access to the advice of the Attorney General and departmental resources. In terms of progressing this further the ball is very much in the court of the government. We will work with the government on it and help as much as we can and be constructive on it.

“We need action on this. There has been a very strong message from the House on this. It is worth saying the vast majority of landlords find this practice absolutely abhorrent, as does everybody else. If we do not address the wider power imbalance and the wider issues in the sector then we will not be taking enough action to deal with this.

“I implore the minister of state, who has recognised the issue, that it needs wider impetus from across government.”

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