ACT Law reform to expunge gay sex convictions

ACT RainbowMen convicted of consensual homosexual acts in the ACT will be able to apply to have their conviction expunged, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell has announced.

Until November 1976 consensual homosexual sex was illegal in the ACT. Offences a person may have been charged with included attempted buggery, buggery on a male person and indecent assault on a male person.

“It is important that the ACT provides equality and access to justice for men who were convicted of a crime that by modern day standards is no longer considered a criminal act,” said Mr Corbell.

“The number of men with a criminal conviction for homosexual sex is not known, however it is estimated a small number of relevant convictions do exist in the ACT. Several jurisdictions have made or are considering schemes to erase convictions for consensual homosexual acts.”

The ACT will be guided by the schemes developed in Victoria, NSW and the UK when developing our own scheme. The Government will introduce a Bill later this year following consultation with stakeholders about a scheme to have criminal convictions erased from a person’s record.

“The ACT Government is ensuring that territory laws do not discriminate on the basis of sexuality,” Mr Corbell said.

“Erasing historic offences is a complex and sensitive area of criminal law and any changes must be made after careful consideration of all relevant issues including the process to abolish convictions. As these details are considered I look forward to consulting with stakeholders about the best way to achieve justice for Canberra’s gay community.”

Marriage equality advocates have welcomed the ACT Government’s commitment to erase gay criminal records and believe the reform will add momentum to the campaign for marriage equality.

“I welcome the ACT Government’s announcement that it will follow the lead of Victoria and NSW in expunging criminal convictions of gay Canberrans,” said Australian Marriage Equality deputy director and ACT resident, Ivan Hinton-Teoh.

“This will remove the stigma endured for decades by men who should never been arrested and it will reinforce the reputation of Canberra as a gay-friendly city. But true equality extends beyond destigmatising same-sex relationships to celebrating them equally.”

“I’m hopeful expungement of gay criminal records will add momentum to the marriage equality campaign by reminding the community that no discrimination is acceptable, past or present.”

For more information, visit: www.act.gov.au for details.

Comments are closed.