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Rights groups commend Victorian Parliament for erasing gay sex convictions

Rights groups commend Victorian Parliament for erasing gay sex convictions

14 October 2014

Tonight the Victorian Parliament became the first Australian jurisdiction to formally acknowledge that sex between consenting men should never have been a crime.

The Victorian Government’s legislation will enable Victorians to apply to erase their criminal record for crimes of a homosexual nature. Crimes that may be expunged include “the abominable crime of buggery”, “loitering for homosexual purposes” and other indecency offences where the conduct would otherwise be lawful under today’s laws. Once applications are approved by the Secretary of the Department of Justice, their convictions will no longer appear on police checks and criminal records.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation, Anna Brown, welcomed the passage of the legislation.

“Today Victoria has made history by becoming the first parliament to formally acknowledge that consenting sex between men should never have been a crime. The new scheme will ensure that countless numbers of gay men will no longer have a black mark on their record when seeking a police check for a job or volunteer position,” said Ms Brown.

Update: Rights groups welcome the passing of laws in NSW to erase left-over criminal convictions from old and unjust gay sex laws

The Government accepted amendments proposed by the Opposition that amended the bill to include a statement that consensual homosexual conduct should never have been a crime; that the grounds of discrimination on the basis of a ‘historical homosexual conviction’ would be protected under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010; and enable a surviving partner or family member to apply for an expungement on behalf of a deceased loved one.

VGLRL Co-convenor Corey Irlam commended the Parliament for working together to improve the bill and achieve the best possible outcome for the LGBTI community.

“Today’s collaboration between the Government, Opposition and cross bench was an example of Parliament working at its best for its constituents. We congratulate and thank the Parliament for the sensible approach they have taken to pass this legislation before the election,” said Mr Irlam.

The Human Rights Law Centre in partnership with the VGLRL, Liberty Victoria, Victorian AIDS Council and Gay & Lesbian Health Victoria developed a discussion paper to help Government explore the issue and released the final version of the report earlier this year. Since then, the HRLC and VGLRL have continued to engage with Government about the bill.

The bill has passed both Houses of Parliament. It is anticipated the scheme will allow people to apply for expungement in mid-2015. If you wish to be kept informed on the start-date of the scheme please email info@vglrl.org.au 

For a copy of the bill and amendments click here.

 

For further comment please contact:
Corey Irlam, Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, Co-Convenor 0401 738 996
Anna Brown is only available via email anna.brown@hrlc.org.au
Jamie Gardiner, Vice President, Liberty Victoria via email jamie_gardiner@iosphere.net.au