The LGBTI Legal Service has offered assistance to Queensland men who want to get their historical gay sex convictions wiped from their criminal records.
Homosexual sex was decriminalised in Queensland in 1991, but men who were charged for consensual activity under several laws prior to that still hold the criminal convictions on their records today.
These convictions need to be disclosed even decades later when applying for a BlueCard; applying for government and other positions, such as a police officer; or to obtain a visa to travel overseas.
From the start of this month, affected community members have been able to access the state government’s expungement service. LGBTI Legal Service executive director Emile McPhee encouraged those with convictions to confidentially get in touch with them for free assistance with their applications.
“The aim of this service is to ensure that individuals affected by convictions can finally be free from these unjust charges,” McPhee said.
“This will go some way towards repairing the significant and lasting harm that these homophobic laws had on Queenslanders.”
Under the legislation, a person can apply to have records expunged for eligible offences if they were charged or convicted under the law, as it stood, before the decriminalisation of consensual adult homosexual activity in Queensland on January 19, 1991.
For those who have died with their gay convictions active, the expungement service allows family members to apply to restore dignity and respect to the person’s memory and name.
To find out more information about how to apply to have a conviction expunged visit the Queensland Government website.
To make a confidential query or an appointment with the LGBTI Legal Service to get assistance with an expungement application, visit their website here.
Last October, the state government passed legislation to establish the expungement scheme, and it came into effect on June 30.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said at the time the expungement scheme was a “a humble but meaningful measure of restorative justice to those who have suffered as a result” of their historical convictions.
Queensland joins Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania in providing a system for people to clear their records of unjust homosexual convictions.
The Northern Territory is in the process of setting up a scheme and legislation is currently before the Western Australian parliament.
The Human Rights Law Centre provides free assistance with expunging historical gay convictions for those people who hold them in other states. To find out more, visit the HRLC website here.