New Zealand considers pardons for historical homosexual convictions

New Zealand Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Committee has agreed to take public submissions following a request that pardons be given to people convicted of homosexual acts before 1986.

Such an offence was then punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment.

The petition was brought forward by Wellington resident Wiremu Denchick and signed by more than 2000 people.

It seeks pardons for those who received convictions before the Homosexual Law Reform Act was passed in 1986 – that law change meant gay sex acts were no longer illegal.

The committee’s decision was welcomed by Green MP and gay rights advocate Kevin Hague.

“The reality for people who were convicted prior to law reform in 86 is that they really didn’t have the opportunity to tell their stories,” he said.

“A grave injustice has been done to those men.”

If successful, it could open the door for other people to seek pardons for historical offences no longer deemed criminal.

But Hague doesn’t have a problem with that, saying it would set a good precedent.

“If there are other immoral laws, it would be great to actually expunge those convictions too.”

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