New Zealand to apologise for convicting men of homosexual acts

By @chelean on
Gay rights activists hold a rainbow flag during a rally to support same-sex marriage in central Sydney.
Gay rights activists hold a rainbow flag during a rally to support same-sex marriage in central Sydney August 11, 2012. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

The New Zealand Parliament will formally apologise to men who had been convicted of homosexual crimes in the past. Justice Minister Amy Adams will move a motion on Thursday to apologise to those convicted of homosexual crimes under a law that was repealed in 1986.

“I move that this House apologise to those homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted for consensual adult activity, and recognise the tremendous hurt and suffering those men and their families have gone through, and the continued effects the convictions have had on them,” the motion will read. Adams will move the apology during the first reading of a bill that aims to clear the records of those convicted under the said defunct law.

Although the country decriminalised consensual sex between men in 1986, the convictions for their offences remained on record and could still appear on criminal history check. There may be about 400 men convicted before the law changed, although the exact number of eligible men is difficult to determine because the law did not distinguish between consensual and non-consensual acts. And therefore the bill cannot apply a blanket approach and instead will just set up a system where the men convicted of homosexual conduct, or their families, can apply to have those convictions expunged from their record.

Adams announced her bill, the Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) in February and introduced it to Parliament last month. She acknowledged that while the hurt and stigma suffered by those convicted couldn’t be undone, she hoped that the Bill would help in addressing that.

New Zealand is the first country in the Asia Pacific region to legalise same-sex marriage in 2013.

Last year, the Victorian government in Australia formally apologised to those convicted under an old anti-homosexual law, which was decriminalised in 1981. Premier Daniel Andrews called the law a “state-sanctioned homophobia,” saying equality in Victoria is “not negotiable.”

In May, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the Parliament that the state was sorry for convicting people of gay sex offences. The law, which convicted men of “acts of gross indecency” for having sexual relations with other men, was decriminalised in Queensland in 1991.

Read more:
Victorian Government to formally apologise to gay people for historic anti-homosexual laws

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