Gay Queensland men will now be able to apply to have their historical gay sex convictions expunged 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 Tuesday night, the Queensland government passed legislation to establish an expungement scheme that Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath described as “a humble but meaningful measure of restorative justice to those who have suffered as a result” of the historical convictions.
“Such convictions were not only unjust but they could also have far-reaching effects on a person’s employment and travel,” she said.
“They will now be able to apply to have such convictions expunged from their record.”
One such man, Alan Raabe (pictured, centre), was charged with aggravated sexual assault after he brushed the groin of an undercover police officer who had lured him into a sting at a Cairns beat in 1988.
“As far as I am aware I’m the only person affected by these laws who has been prepared to speak publicly about this,” he told a government committee hearing earlier this year.
“This is possibly an indication of the fear and the shame that still surrounds [the convictions] to this very day.
“To have these crimes expunged will go a huge way towards to dealing with this.”
Shadow Attorney-General Ian Walker said the LNP opposition supported the bill and recognised the significance of the scheme to the impacted men.
“We hope the processes are simple and efficient for those involved and this goes some way towards easing the pain and suffering caused to many in years gone by,” he said.
— Anna Brown (@AnnaHRLC) October 10, 2017
Amendments to the legislation moved by Ms D’ath allow offences to be expunged if they occurred in a public place, addressing concerns an earlier version of the expungement scheme would not have allowed convictions for consensual activity at gay beats to be expunged.
According to the amendments, the activity must not have been seen by a witness without that person taking an “abnormal or unusual action.”
In May, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk apologised on behalf of the parliament and the people of Queensland to the gay men who were charged under the historical laws.
Under the expungement scheme legislation, a person can apply to the Department of Justice and Attorney General to have records expunged for eligible offences if they were charged or convicted under the law, as it stood, before the state decriminalised consensual adult homosexual activity on 19 January 1991.
(Photo by LGBTI Legal Service)