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Crime

Australian: ACT to expunge historic gay sex convictions

Nick Duffy January 11, 2015
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The Australian Capital Territory is to expunge the records for historic gay sex convictions.

Sodomy remained illegal in Australia until 1973, when the anti-gay law was repealed – though gays were still criminalised in some parts of Australia until 1994.

Labor MP and Attorney-General for the ACT, Simon Corbell, this week announced that all historical gay sex convictions will be expunged.

Mr Corbell said: “It is important that the ACT provides equality and access to justice for men who were convicted of a crime that by modern day standards is no longer considered a criminal act.

“The number of men with a criminal conviction for homosexual sex is not known, however it is estimated a small number of relevant convictions do exist in the ACT.

“It needs to be confidential process because we’re dealing with significant stigma and shame – unwarranted shame, of course, but nevertheless stigma that still can exist many years after the event so it needs to be confidential, it needs to be sensitive.”

The juristictions of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia have already moved to expunge their gay sex convictions, while lobbying groups are furthering proposals in other areas.

Canberra MP Andrew Leigh added that expunging the convictions is “a fundamental issue of human rights.”

He said: “We’re talking about an issue which really clears up the historical record.”

In the UK, since 2012 men who were convicted under anti-gay laws can apply to have their convictions erased.

However, the government last year rejected calls for all convictions for homosexual acts to be posthumously disregarded.

Justice Minister Lord Faulks said such an amendment would introduce a “disproportionate burden” on the police and Home Office.

Related topics: act, Australia, Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Crime, Gay, Gays, historic, Law, Sex, sodomy

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