A dark chapter in Australia’s history has closed for gay, lesbian and bisexual Australians, their friends and families. Today the Western Australian Parliament joined all states and territories in passing laws to allow people charged under unjust homosexual laws to have the convictions removed from their criminal records.
Jamie Gardiner, a long-time gay rights advocate who has been campaigning for equality for more than 40 years, welcomed the milestone.
“I am delighted that the WA Government has achieved this long overdue reform. Convictions of gay men or boys under bad laws that should never have existed can now be expunged. This reform was first proposed to a Victorian government in 1976, and finally achieved there in 2014.”
“Even though bad, homophobic laws were progressively repealed around Australia from the 1970s the damage they did to those who were caught up in them has lived on, poisoning the lives of many and causing great loss to both the victims and to society.”
“In just four years, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Human Rights Law Centre, and the work led by Anna Brown and Lee Carnie, every state and territory has now enacted laws under which the injustice of convictions under anti-gay laws can be rejected and the slate wiped clean,” said Mr Gardiner.
These unjust laws had a profound impact on the everyday lives of gay men, lesbians and bisexual people. In many cases the convictions have restricted employment, volunteering and travel overseas. More fundamentally, the convictions were a source of ongoing grief and deep personal shame for the individuals affected.
Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said this was an great day for the LGBTIQ community.
“Sex between consenting adults should never have been criminalised. By acknowledging the impact of these homophobic laws, our members of parliament have paid respect to the victims of these laws and also to our LGBTIQ community.”
“Every state and territory has now recognised that punishing people for who they love was the real crime,” said Ms Brown.
The passage of WA legislation follows similar laws being passed across the country following the introduction of an expungement scheme in Victoria in 2014. In 2013 South Australia passed a law that allows men with convictions to apply for their convictions to be ‘spent’, but this scheme falls short of full ‘expungement’.
The Human Rights Law Centre provides legal assistance to those who have been unfairly burdened by criminal records imposed when the law criminalised homosexual sexual relations.
For further information about expunging your historic conviction, please contact our Expungement Legal Service on (03) 8636 4458.
For interviews call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519