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New Zealand may not reverse historic gay sex convictions after all

Kaitlyn Hayes July 6, 2016

New Zealand’s justice minister thinks reversing convictions for gay sex could prove to be “too difficult”.

Thirty years after New Zealand passed the Homosexual Law Reform Act – which decriminalised gay sex – Kiwi men convicted prior to the reform still have criminal records.

To mark the anniversary of the law change, Green MP Kevin Hague tabled a petition started by Wiremu Demchick requesting that Parliament issue an official apology and pardon those convicted of “homosexual acts” before 1986.

“People who were convicted under historic immoral laws should not have to live with those convictions on their records today,” said Mr Hague.

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However, New Zealand’s Justice Minister Amy Adams said today that reversing the convictions would be a “very difficult process” because the law didn’t distinguish between consensual and non-consensual acts.

“A lot of the offences are still offences under today’s law,” Ms Adams said. “Around under-age children and the like, so it’s not as simple as a blanket approach.”

She continued that, “if it was even possible,” the task of pardoning would be a very detailed process going through each case and determining if it would still be illegal.

Though the exact number is unknown, it’s believed around 400 men were convicted of “homosexual acts” when sexual contact between men was still illegal.

Ms Adams said she was advised up to 80 per cent of convictions would still be offences under New Zealand law today.

She added that she would wait for a select committee to consider the petition before a decision was made about an apology.

New Zealand is one of 15 countries that have legalised same-sex marriage, but, like many, the country clearly still has a long road to equality.

More: Gay, homosexual law reform, LGBT, New Zealand, New Zealand

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