Society would call them paedophiles. They call themselves girl-lovers.

They have a website where they write about their sexual attraction to little children - and there is nothing the law can do about it.

The website describing ways to love teen and pre-teen girls and promoting a way to "emancipate" them was launched recently.

Internet law expert Reinhardt Buys says it may be offensive but it's legal.

"Free speech does not only protect good, healthy and legal speech, but also untrue and unpopular expressions," he says.

But paedophile expert Marcelle Londt says that regardless of whether it is legal or illegal, it is extremely dangerous.

"This is exactly the way paedophiles operate. They will start with a hands-off approach, painting a veneer of legality over what they do. Then they will move to another website, making contact with a child.

"They are predators and they have money. I have no doubt that paedophiles will use this website," she adds.

The chatroom claims to be devoted to the "exquisite delights of girl-love".

Participants on the site are warned not to identify themselves in any way "as law enforcement agencies and self-styled child advocates, whose sole mission is to harass members of the girl-love community", might read the messages on the site.

They are also told that no requests to meet under-age participants in real life will be allowed.

"Our quest is to emancipate girls of all ages and girl-love in general. It is a multilingual celebration of the exquisite delights of young girls and teenage women," the site says.

"True emancipation begins neither at the polls nor in the world's courtrooms. It begins in a child's sublime assent to becoming self-actualised with the keen-eyed help of a loving mentor (gardener) who is willing to carefully fertilise and tend the growth of the emotions, spirit and intellectual flora of the garden of a child's soul.

"We won't help you break the law. We are not going to make any moral or ethical judgments on your life, but we don't want to be liable for the repercussions," the site states.

Buys says the site is a "classic example of the conflict between the constitutional right to free expression and limitations thereto".

The solution, he says, lies in the definition of child pornography. The Constitutional Court is at present considering a challenge against the total ban on child pornography based on this definition.

"However, notwithstanding the legality of the website, it would be very difficult for a South African court to block access to the site if the site is situated in a jurisdiction where child porn is not regulated as strictly as in South Africa," Buys says.

"I did not look at every page on the website, but it seems legal," he adds.

Londt says the argument is sometimes advanced that it is better for a paedophile to dabble in porn than to find a child to act out his sexual urges.

"They say it isn't that harmful, but we know there is a direct link between sexual arousal, pornography and paedophilia.

"The same can be said of this website."

How the sex pests try to explain away their fantasies. This is one of the messages posted on the website:

"Hi all. Here are 10 things I believe about Child Love.

1. Paedophilia is not synonymous with child molester.

2. We have emotional as well as a physical interest in children.

3. We are a legitimate sexual orientation, just as are the heterosexuals and gays.

4. We are less likely to molest children than other people. Many paedophiles work with children every day and do not get sexual with them. Statistics show that the majority of child molestations are in the home and done by people who identify themselves as heterosexual not paedosexual.

5. Children benefit from being with us. We bring real love and respect into any relationship we have with kids. Paedophiles are also excellent mentors. Children trust, confide and open up to paedophiles in ways that they do not with other people.

6. Paedophiles are here to stay no matter what level of persecution is heaped upon them. Young paedosexual people are discovering their orientation every day, which means that there will always be a replacement for those imprisoned or otherwise silenced.

7. Demonisation of our orientation is not helpful to either children or others in the greater society. The only people it protects are those in the child abuse industry.

8. Paedophiles are a natural part of humanity and have been on this earth as long as any other segment of the population.

9. Child lovers have a role to play in society, which, if given the chance, would be of great benefit to all.

10. Hate-crime legislation needs to include our orientation, just as it does homosexuals."