Today the Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan will deliver a formal state apology to people convicted under unjust laws against homosexual acts.
Jonathon Mann, Chair of Rainbow Rights WA said the apology recognises the harm these discriminatory laws caused.
“This apology will send a clear message that a State Government that once condemned gay men, is now a State Government that values its LGBTI+ community. These men lived and loved in a pervasive political and social climate of state sanctioned homophobia,” said Mr Mann.
Neil, a member of Rainbow Rights WA was personally affected by the unjust laws.
“My memory is really one of fear. Fear of persecution for being gay, of gay bashings and the inevitable victim blaming, fear of entrapment, fear of embarrassing your family, the constant anxiety of knowing that society thought of you as a criminal…conviction or not,” said Neil.
Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy with the Human Rights Law Centre, welcomed the apology, which will deliver on the WA Government's election commitment.
“Sex between consenting adults should never have been criminalised. This apology is a powerful symbolic act that helps to repair the harm caused by these unjust laws and affirm the value of gay, lesbian and bisexual people’s sexuality. The apology from WA Premier Mark McGowan will draw a line in the sand. It sends a clear message to Western Australians that the wrongs of the past must be set right,” said Ms Brown.
The WA Government will also table a Bill which will allow men with leftover criminal convictions to apply for them to be removed from their records. Currently, people with historical same-sex convictions must disclose their decades old offences on police checks, visa applications, job applications, going to court and Working with Children checks.
“In practical terms, having an outstanding criminal offence on record for what has been a consensual activity now for almost three decades continues to have a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of West Australians who have faced tangible barriers to work, volunteering and travel because of police check requirements, leaving a legacy of persecution, discrimination and shame,” said Mr Mann.
“If the Bill is passed, Western Australia will join Victoria, the ACT, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland in taking important steps to remove the practical barriers facing gay men who still live as criminals for unjust laws which should never have existed in the first place. We look forward to seeing the detail of the Bill to ensure it will deliver a fair and accessible scheme that will assist these men in practice,” added Ms Brown.
The apology will be delivered at 12pm WA time today (3pm AEST) and can be watched online here.
For interviews or further information please call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519