SA welcomes Vic moves on gay convictions, Greens call for apology
The South Australian government has welcomed news that the Victorian government will follow SA’s lead and introduce legislation to expunge historical convictions for consensual homosexual acts, while the Greens SA are calling for a formal government apology for those convicted.
South Australia’s Spent Convictions (Decriminalised Offences) Amendment Act 2013 passed the upper house on September 30 last year, the final sitting day of the current parliament, and came into effect on December 22, 2013.
Men who received prison sentences solely for having consensual sex with another adult male can now apply to a magistrate have their records expunged.
“While some people with convictions for historical homosexual offences could already apply to a Qualified Magistrate for their conviction to be spent, those sentenced to a term of imprisonment could not,” Labor Minister Ian Hunter (above, left) explained.
“Following our reforms, a person can now apply to a Qualified Magistrate for their conviction to be spent regardless of the penalty they received.”
“It’s great to see other States following the lead of the South Australian Government by seeking to remove historical gay sex convictions,” Hunter said.
NSW MP Alex Greenwich has promised to introduce similar legislation in that state and the Tasmanian government has indicated it will also consider legislation.
GREENS CALL FOR APOLOGY
Following the successful passage of the legislation, the South Australian Greens have promised to push for a formal apology from the government, if re-elected in March.
"Now that we have fixed the law, the next step is for the Parliament to apologise to those who have until now continued to live with convictions for these now discredited and repealed offences on their official record," Mark Parnell MLC (above, right), Parliamentary leader of Greens SA, told blaze.
"No doubt many have suffered hardship as a result, whether it be in relation to employment, travel or any of the other things that require police checks or a declaration of criminal convictions.
"It’s great news that this new law has now passed and commenced operation, but there is still unfinished business."
Parnell said an apology would not only help those directly affected, it would highlight the availability of the process to those men who do not yet know about it.
“It’s only right that when an injustice has been corrected, you also apologise," Parnell said.
"It’s timely for the SA Parliament to now apologise to those gay men whose records still bear convictions for offences that are obsolete, out-dated and which were always unjust.
"The Greens will put the apology on the public record and we hope that all MPs will see fit to support it.”