Alan Raabe, the Queensland man who became the face of the campaign to expunge the state’s historical gay convictions, may be ineligible to have his own expunged, his lawyer says.
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, affecting their employment and travel.
Mr Raabe (pictured, centre) told his story last year, describing his experience of being targeted by an undercover police officer on a beachfront Cairns esplanade late one night in 1988.
“I was walking along The Esplanade and a very handsome young man walked towards me and gave me what I thought was ‘the eye,'” Mr Raabe told ABC News.
“I followed him and we ended up in a very dark corner of the park, totally isolated and surrounded by trees and bushes.
“I approached him cautiously and then eventually brushed up against him and made a suggestion that we get together. And he said, ‘That’s a pity, because I’m a policeman.'”
Raabe was arrested and charged with sexual assault. He plead guilty to the charge in court but maintains he only approached the man because he was led to believe it was consensual.
The laws passed by the Queensland Government last October allow for public morality and homosexual offences to be expunged, but do not include other offences that gay men were charged with.
LGBTI Legal Service lawyer Emil McPhee, who is acting for Mr Raabe, told the ABC that police posing as gay men appeared to be a common method of charging for homosexual offences at the time.
“The [story] of busting into a room and finding two men in bed doesn’t seem to have happened too often,” he said.
“It seems like the ones that happened frequently and the ones we had hoped these laws would cover are these offences where somebody was, for lack of a better word, entrapped.”
Mr McPhee said the expungement laws, which took effect on June 30, would prevent most people charged from clearing their name, because offences such as assault still existed today and could not be expunged.
“It might be only a handful of people [who are eligible], which would be a real problem,” he said.
A spokesperson for Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’ath said the legislation allows for modification.
“The Attorney-General specifically drafted the legislation so that there is room to add further offences if pertinent examples come to light,” the spokesperson said.
“It should be noted it is very early days and the Director-General is yet to rule on any applications for expungement.
“The apology [to the LGBTIQ community] and the legislation were important steps to acknowledge the harm that had been inflicted on people when homosexual activity was considered a criminal offence.”
Getting a conviction expunged means a person can legally say they were never convicted, and will no longer have to disclose the conviction when applying for a BlueCard, applying for government or police positions, or obtaining a visa to travel overseas.
To find out more information about how to apply to have a historical gay conviction expunged visit the Queensland Government website.
The LGBTI Legal Service has offered free assistance to Queensland men who want to get their convictions wiped from their criminal records.
To make a confidential inquiry to get help with an expungement application, visit their website here.