Queensland leader apologises for causing gay citizens ‘immeasurable pain’
One of the largest states in the world has introduced a law to throw out criminal convictions for homosexuality, and apologised for causing its citizens “immeasurable pain”.
Queensland, an Australian state with one-third of the country’s biggest cities, convicted hundreds of people for having consensual sex before homosexuality was finally decriminalised in 1991.
Legislation was put to the state parliament today to officially quash the convictions.
And Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk publicly apologised in front of the other politicians.
“To those people who face the ignominy of being charged by police of appearing before the courts and being punished for merely expressing their sexuality: we say sorry,” she said.
“You have been maligned and shamed, and for that we express our deep regret for the hurt you have suffered.
“In criminalising homosexual activity between consenting adults, the legislative assembly of this state dishonoured its citizens and institutionalised prejudice and discrimination,” Palaszczuk added.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath told Australian media outlet SBS that she was proud to introduce the bill.
“The discriminatory nature of the archaic laws that existed in this state prior to 1991 institutionalised ignorance,” she said.
The Attorney-General added that the laws “legitimised prejudice against people for merely expressing their sexuality.
“What this bill is intended to do is … recognise that private, consensual sexual activity should never have been a concern of this legislative assembly, or the criminal law.”
Homosexuality is now legal in Queensland, but those who were convicted still had to declare their criminal record to potential employers to work in the public services, education or childcare.
Queensland’s move follows similar actions taken by the UK and Germany earlier this year.
In January, thousands of British men convicted of historic gay sex offences were pardoned under Turing’s Law.
Living gay men are now able to apply though the Home Office’s disregard process to have their historic offences removed.
And in March, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government rescinded the convictions of 50,000 men sentenced for homosexuality under a Nazi-era law.
The German authorities also set aside 30 million euros to compensate an estimated 5,000 convicted men who are still alive.
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Queensland also scrapped its controversial ‘gay panic’ defence last month, which allowed criminals to get more lenient sentences after violent murders.
The law was based around the suggestion that a perpetrator could be “panicked” into committing a violent crime due to an unwanted advance from a gay person.
The defence still exists in South Australia, though its Law Reform Institute has urged the state government to abolish it.
Watch the Premier’s full apology here:
— The Courier-Mail (@couriermail) May 11, 2017