Read the apology in full below
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has apologised to the LGBTI people convicted under the state’s unjust laws against homosexuality.
Homosexual sex was decriminalised in Queensland in 1990, but men who were charged for consensual activity under several laws prior to that still hold the criminal convictions, affecting their employment and ability to travel.
On Thursday afternoon Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured, left) issued an apology to the LGBTI community on behalf of “the people of Queensland, and the parliament” for the discriminatory convictions.
“We acknowledge those whose lives were affected, not only those burdened with criminal convictions but also their partners and families,” she said.
“We are all so sorry. You were denied the opportunity to openly declare your love for one another and to celebrate that love.
“To those people who face the ignominy of being charged by police, of appearing before the courts and being punished for merely expressing their sexuality, we say sorry.
“You have been maligned and shamed, and for that we say sorry and express our deep regret for the trauma you have suffered.”
— The Courier-Mail (@couriermail) May 11, 2017
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath also introduced a bill that would establish a scheme to allow eligible people to apply to the director-general of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, with applications considered on a case-by-case basis against available official records.
— Yvette D'Ath (@YvetteDAth) May 11, 2017
Alan Raabe (pictured above, right), a Queensland man who was arrested by a plain clothes police officer at a gay beat and convicted in 1988, watched the Premier’s apology on Thursday afternoon and thanked the Queensland government, as well as the groups and activists who’ve put in “countless hours and enormous energy” toward the reform.
“Being a criminal offence of a sexual nature, I had to abandon any hope of gaining teacher registration in Queensland,” he said.
“This is the first Queensland government in 30 years which has had the decency to acknowledge the trauma and anguish caused to an estimated 500 Queenslanders by these convictions.”
Groups including the LGBTI Legal Service, the Queensland AIDS Council and the Human Rights Law Centre applauded the government’s apology and the expungement legislation.
LGBTI Legal Service director Emile McPhee said Ms Palaszczuk’s apology recognises the “legacy of shame and stigma” that the discriminatory laws left on the LGBTI community for too long.
“It’s well and truly time for this legacy to be completely erased from the criminal histories of persecuted gays, lesbians and trans people,” he said.
Queensland AIDS Council Vice President Peter Black said the historic apology was “a really important symbolic step for the LGBTIQ community in Queensland.”
“This recognises that homosexuality should never have been against the law, and that gay men and women are entitled to the same rights and freedoms and privacy in their relationships as the rest of the community,” he said.
He said the criminalisation of homosexuality also made it harder for the AIDS Council and the LGBTI community to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“These laws not only impacted upon the individuals convicted… they also contributed to a political climate that sought to marginalise the LGBTIQ community,” he said.
“Sadly, many members of our community from this time are no longer with us today. But this reform is welcomed by their families, friends and loved ones and is an opportunity for us all to remember their lives and their loss.”
Read the Queensland Parliament’s apology in full below:
Today this Legislative Assembly acknowledges the harm that has been inflicted by past convictions for homosexual activity between consenting adults in Queensland. We acknowledge those whose lives were affected, not only those burdened with criminal convictions but also their partners, their parents, their brothers and sisters, their children and all their family and friends.
This house is the repository of legislative power in this state. It is the symbol of our democracy, and as members of this house we have a duty and obligation to make laws for the betterment of our society and for the benefit of our citizens. In criminalising homosexual sexual activity between consenting adults, the Legislative Assembly of this state dishonoured our citizens and institutionalised prejudice and discrimination.
It was this institutionalised prejudice that affected not only those who were convicted of offences but everyone else who was made to feel that their sexuality was wrong and they were not accepted by their community. To those people, we are all so sorry. You were denied the opportunity to openly declare your love for one another, to celebrate that love and to enjoy all that a loving relationship can give.
To those people who face the ignominy of being charged by police, of appearing before the courts and being punished for merely expressing their sexuality, we say sorry. We regret the humiliation that you have endured and the violence and the vilification that was perpetrated upon you. We know that for many of you this has caused immeasurable pain. We acknowledge that this experience has impacted significantly on your lives.
Many of you have been forced to disclose your convictions repeatedly, when you applied for a job, when you wanted to travel overseas, and when you spoke to your family and friends. You have been maligned and shamed, and for that we say sorry and express our deep regret for the trauma that you have suffered.
We recognise the hurt and the shame that have been felt by friends and family members, to them we are sorry. We acknowledge also their partners and children, and others who have supported their loved ones over the years in coping and dealing with what they have experienced. This Legislative Assembly offers its unreserved and sincere apology to all those who suffered from prejudice as a result of the discriminatory laws passed by this house, and we acknowledge that your pain and suffering continues.
We acknowledge the guilt, shame and secrecy carried for too many for too long. Today, in this Legislative Assembly, we place on the record for future generations our deep regret and say to all those affected, we are sorry that the laws of this state, your state, let you down.
To all those affected, we say sorry.