Homosexual convictions bill introduced

Amy Adams announced:

A Bill to allow historical convictions for homosexual offences to be removed will help put right a wrong from the past, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

The Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill was introduced to Parliament today.

“The tremendous hurt and stigma suffered by those who were affected can never be fully undone, but I hope that this Bill will go some way toward addressing that,” says Ms Adams.

“This Bill introduces the first ever expungement scheme in New Zealand. It will allow men convicted of specific homosexual offences decriminalised by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 to apply to have the convictions wiped from their criminal record.

“Allowing historical convictions for homosexual offences to remain on a person’s criminal record perpetuates the stigma which such convictions carry. A person can be further disadvantaged if they are required to disclose their conviction or it appears on a criminal history check.”

This is a good thing.

You need to be careful when dealing with historic convictions. Generally just because something is now legal, doesn’t mean those convicted of an offence when it was illegal should lose their conviction. For example the speed limit used to be 80 km/hr. It is now 100 km/hr. If you were fined for driving at 90 km/hr that doesn’t mean raising the limit to 100 km/hr should see that fine disappear.

But that analogy does not apply to this case. People were convicted for something that never should have been a crime – private adult consensual sexual activity. The only way a gay person could have not broken the law was to remain celibate for their entire life. That was and is an unreasonable burden to place on people.

It is unfair that someone convicted under this law should still have a conviction which could affect their ability to travel etc.

So hopefully it will pass through Parliament with strong support.

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