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Growing calls for NSW to expunge gay sex convictions
Jan13

Growing calls for NSW to expunge gay sex convictions

LAST UPDATED // Monday, 13 January 2014 17:09 Written by // Cec Busby

In light of Premier’s Napthine’s announcement of the Victorian government’s plans to expunge the record of people convicted of consensual homosexual intercourse prior to 1984, there are growing calls for NSW to follow suit.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW GLRL) has called on NSW state parliament to rectify the injustice of these convictions.

“30 years after decriminalisation, it is time for people who were unjustly convicted prior to 1984 to be able to have their convictions removed,” GLRL Convenor Justin Koonin said.

Greens NSW Sexuality and Gender Identify Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi,  has added her voice in protest, calling on the NSW Premier to also erase the criminal records of people convicted of consensual gay sex under NSW anti gay laws.

“Laws that criminalised consensual gay sex should never have existed and their legacy, including any convictions under those hateful laws, should be removed immediately,” she said.

“It is unacceptable that people who were unfairly convicted under regressive laws are forced to have this brought up over and over again whenever questioned about their criminal records. The convictions could easily be expunged and make a real difference to people’s lives,” Faruqi concluded.

The GLRL has also called on the Government to expunge the convictions of people who were convicted of sexual offences between 1984 and 2003, but who would not have been, were it not for the unequal age of consent which operated in NSW during that time.
 
“The unequal age of consent was always fundamentally unjust, discriminating between homosexual and heterosexual intercourse, and created an additional class of people in NSW who should now be able to apply to have their old convictions removed,” Koonin said.

2014 marks the 30thanniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in NSW Koonin said it is time to for the government to reach out to those who were wrongly convicted and have often suffered as a result.
 
“A commitment to equality and justice requires that we expunge these convictions, resulting from charges that today would not be upheld in a court of law. In a democracy, when societal values change, the legal system needs to adapt, and it has to make room for some form of redress too. Expunging historical convictions for acts no longer considered a crime is a practical, and powerful, way to do this.”

Sydney Independent MP Alex Greenwich is working with members across parliament to draft a Bill to expunge these unjust sentences from the record.

“I have received positive indications from the Government that they will consider supporting my proposed bill and I will work with them to address any concerns” Greenwich said.

A spokeswoman for NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith told AAP the government would consider laws of its own, and will consult with groups including NSW Police and legal bodies.

"The law covered consensual and non-consensual sexual acts and it is important to ensure any changes do not inadvertently clear pedophiles and other sexual predators who were rightly convicted for criminal behaviour against male victims," she said.

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Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and GayNewsNetwork.com.au.

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