Bruce Notley-Smith to introduce private members bill to expunge gay sex convictions
Mar26

Bruce Notley-Smith to introduce private members bill to expunge gay sex convictions

LAST UPDATED // Wednesday, 26 March 2014 15:02 Written by // Cec Busby

Member for Coogee, Bruce Notley-Smith gave notice to NSW parliament last night on his intention to introduce a private members bill to expunge gay sex convictions between consenting adults.

Homosexuality was illegal in NSW until 1984 and prior to this time many gay men in the state were convicted for a range of offences including buggery and gross indecency.

Today homosexuality is decriminalised in NSW but many of those convicted have lived with the stigma of an arrest record for years, sometimes preventing them from travel, certain jobs and oftentimes causing psychological distress.
 
"It has been recognised that there are significant psychological and social impacts experienced by those who were convicted for acts which are no longer offences as the law now stands,” Notley-Smith said. “People convicted of offences prior to the 1984 law reform can still be required to disclose the convictions when traveling overseas or when applying for jobs. My bill will seek to remedy this injustice,”.

Notley-Smith told SX criminalisation of homosexuality had a big effect on his life as a young gay man.

“The fact that homosexual acts were criminal until 1984 had a significant impact on my life. I was a very confused young man in 1984. Dealing with my sexuality was enough of a challenge; the thought of being a criminal made that challenge even more onerous.”

Notley-Smith said it is now widely accepted that consensual sex acts between adult men should never have been a criminal offence and a number of other states are moving to expunge records.   

“I’ve had a very positive response from members of the coalition, particularly the attorney-general, so I am hopeful of success in getting the bill through,” he said.

Notley-Smith said the impact of a conviction was still being felt by many gay men.

“Many of those who were convicted had career opportunities curtailed and suffered enormously by the stigmatisation that these convictions brought about. We can’t change the past, but we can remove the stain on the character of those who were  convicted,” Notley-Smith said.
 
Convictions for homosexual acts that were committed with a non-consenting person or with a minor will continue to stand. It is anticipated the bill will be introduced into the Legislative Assembly of the New South Wales Parliament in the middle of the year.

The Bill will also enable people convicted under unequal age of consent laws, which were in place until 2003, to have their convictions removed.

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) have welcomed the move to expunge convictions, which follows similar announcements by the Victorian government.

“Prior to 1984, homosexual intercourse was criminalised in New South Wales and until 2003, under the State’s unequal age of consent laws, a 17 year-old gay or bisexual male who had consensual sexual intercourse with another male aged 16 years, was still liable for prosecution, conviction and a maximum jail term of 25 years,” NSW GLRL Convenor, Justin Koonin said.

ICLC Director Dan Stubbs added, “In many cases where people were charged as a result of acts no longer considered criminal offences, the effects on their lives have been profound, sometimes resulting in incarceration, social alienation, the inability to apply for specific jobs, and, in many instances, the inability to travel freely overseas, as other Australians do.“

People who have been directly affected, and who wish to share their experiences in support of this process, are strongly encouraged to speak to the Inner City Legal Centre, by phoning (02) 9332 1966, or the NSW GLRL, by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or writing to the NSW GLRL at PO BOX 304, Glebe, NSW

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Cec Busby

Cec Busby

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

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