The Western Australian government will apologise to the LGBTI community ahead of the introduction of legislation to expunge historical gay convictions.
On Wednesday, the state’s Premier Mark McGowan will apologise on behalf of the parliament to those convicted because of their homosexuality.
The state decriminalised consensual homosexual activity in March 1990 but those prosecuted under the old laws still have the convictions on their criminal records, affecting their employment, travel and adoption.
“This is simply about righting the wrongs of the past. These acts should never have been considered a criminal offence,” McGowan said.
“Many have experienced severe psychological trauma as a result of the old laws. We can’t change the past, but I hope that the apology will offer some comfort.
“It’s an important step for WA and sends the message that we are a tolerant state that is welcoming and proud of everyone in our community.”
The government said 200 to 300 Western Australians are affected. Under the government’s proposed laws, they’ll be able to apply to expunge such a conviction if it satisfies a test that ensures the offence would not be considered a crime if committed today.
Families of those with the convictions who have since died will also be able to apply for expungement on their behalf.
Earlier this month, the Queensland government passed legislation that will allow Queensland men with similar historical convictions to have them expunged.
The Northern Territory is now the only Australian jurisdiction yet to consider a historical gay conviction expungement scheme.