Equality organisations welcome Victorian announcement on historical homosexual convictions law

Note: The NSW Government has also announced plans to erase the criminal records of men who were convicted for having consensual sex in the past when homosexuality was illegal.

The Human Rights Law Centre and the Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby today welcomed the Victorian Government announcement that it will introduce legislation to erase the criminal records of people convicted of unjust crimes before 1981 when homosexuality was illegal.

HRLC Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation, Anna Brown, described the legislation as an historic moment for Victoria.

"Convicting someone because of the gender of a person they slept with should never have been a crime. The legislation recognises this wrong and will erase the convictions that have negatively impacted on many people’s lives for decades," said Ms Brown.

Up until March 1981 homosexuality was criminalised in Victoria and many people were charged and convicted under these discriminatory and unjust laws. The Government’s proposal will erase convictions if the conduct in question would be considered lawful today.

The VGLRL’s Co-convenor, Corey Irlam, said it was a much needed reform.

“This will mean that those people convicted will no longer have a black mark on their record when seeking a police check for a job or volunteer position,” said Mr Irlam.

The Human Rights Law Centre in partnership with the VGLRL, Victorian AIDS Council, Liberty Victoria and Gay & Lesbian Health Victoria developed a discussion paper to help Government explore the issue and released the final version of the report earlier this year. Since then, the HRLC and VGLRL have continued to engage with Government about the bill.

Mr Irlam said he was cautiously optimistic that the Bill will largely deliver on the recommendations of the report.

"While we welcome the Bill’s imminent introduction, we'll need to wait to see the bill tabled in Parliament before we can comment on its contents," said Mr Irlam.

 The NSW Government has followed Victoria's lead and announced similar reforms to erase historic gay sex convictions.

For more information contact:
Anna Brown, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Litigation, HRLC0422 235 552 (anna.brown@hrlc.org.au)
Corey Irlam, Co-convenor, VGLRL 0401 738 996 (corey@vglrl.org.au)