Historical criminal treatment of consensual homosexual activity – call for stories

Scales of Justice editorialUntil 1990, all homosexual sexual activity was a crime in Queensland. The law made no distinction between public and private acts, nor for consensual and non-consensual conduct. Reports and articles indicate men were targeted by the police for consensual homosexual acts and behaviour on streets, in parks, and in homes.

Similar laws existed all over Australia, with decriminalisation taking effect from the late 1970s. We believe that many men in Queensland still endure the impact of harassment, humiliation or prosecution at the hands of the Queensland police and courts.

Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales have introduced legislation establishing processes to expunge the convictions of men who were prosecuted for conduct that is now legal. The LGBTI Legal Service Inc. want to do the same here in Queensland.

This would mean that not only will men who have been convicted under these laws be freed from the burden of having a criminal record, but it would be an important and symbolic gesture for the LGBTI community.

The LGBTI Legal Service Inc. is currently preparing a discussion paper for the Queensland Government and key stakeholders which will examine the repealed laws and identify the best options for reform by reference to the processes implemented in other States. Stakeholders in Tasmania and the Australia Capital Territory are also undertaking a similar process.

To help demonstrate the need for reform this discussion paper requires personal stories of Queenslanders to highlight the continued struggle and internalised stigma that attached to the prosecution of these laws. We know that there must be affected men who are currently living in Queensland.

As such, the LGBTI Legal Service Inc. would like to call for those men who have been affected to provide their stories and shed a light on this dark period of Queensland’s history. This is not limited to convictions under the Criminal Code but extends to harassment by police, any fines issued, or prosecutions where no conviction was recorded.

For anyone who knew someone who was affected but who has since passed away, we invite you to share their story on their behalf. We understand that this may be painful for some of you. Accordingly, if you so request, stories can be published in the paper on an anonymous basis.

The LGBTI Legal Service Inc. asks that people initially contact us by email on either lgbtilegalservice@gmail.com or info@lgbtilegalservice.org.  We can then either talk to you by email, in person or over the phone on 0401 936 232.