Tasmania may have been the last state to decriminalise homosexuality, in 1997, but it is making up for lost time.
The Apple Isle will become the first state to not only expunge criminal records of those convicted under former anti-gay laws, but also formally apologise to all those affected including families and loved ones of people who are now deceased.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Rodney Croome (pictured) praised the move.
“For those men who were prosecuted in Tasmania for simply being in same-sex relationships it will be a great relief to be rid of the disadvantage and stigma that comes with an unfair criminal record,” he said.
“I am proud that Tasmania will be the first state to apologise to those arrested and their families because it will lift a burden from their shoulders and send the strongest message yet that Tasmania is a progressive and inclusive society.”
Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks said other states had started the process of allowing people to expunge convictions for homosexuality but none had gone as far as offering an apology.
“It’s great that we’re not going to be the last cab off the rank with this, (as) we were with repealing the criminalisation of homosexual offences,” she said.
“I think it’s really positive that the government is going to include an apology in the parliamentary process because apologies make an enormous difference to people.”
Meanwhile, the Queensland Government languishes on LGBT law reform. While the “crime” of consensual gay sex was removed 25 years ago, there has been slow progress on actually expunging the convictions.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath told parliament in August that the legal position regarding convictions of consensual and non-consensual homosexual sex was not clear, and needed further investigation.
And so the wait continues.