Report: Righting historical wrongs: Background paper for a legislative scheme to expunge convictions for historical consensual gay sex offences in Victoria

The Human Rights Law Centre has produced a report on the need for legislation to erase the criminal records of homosexual men who were convicted for having consensual sex in the past when it was illegal.

Download a copy of the report here: Righting historical wrongs - Background paper for a legislative scheme to expunge convictions for historical consensual gay sex offences in Victoria

Until 1981 in Victoria, gay men were convicted and even imprisoned for offences ranging from “buggery” and “loitering for homosexual purposes” to indecency and offensive behaviour offences. In some cases, individuals who would today be treated as victims of sexual abuse were charged with criminal offences. Today, unknown numbers of men (and possibly women) live with the shame, stigma and barriers to work, volunteer and travel caused by a criminal conviction for conduct that is lawful today.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy, Anna Brown, said having these manifestly unjust convictions erased would help end the stigma, shame and practical difficulties they inflict.

“Sex between consenting adults should never have been criminalised. The laws have changed and society has moved on, but convictions imposed under the old archaic laws continue to haunt in both practical and emotional ways. Acknowledging these laws were wrong and legislating to abolish the left-over convictions would start to heal the harm that these discriminatory laws have caused,” said Ms Brown.

A HRLC media release on this topic and an announcement from the Victorian Premier can be found here.