Western Australian LGBTI advocates have called on their state government to offer a parliamentary apology to gay men convicted under the state’s historic anti-gay laws.
On Thursday, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman gave an apology in the state’s parliament to LGBTI people convicted as legislation was introduced to wipe the criminal records of those convicted under the state’s historic anti-gay and anti-transgender laws.
Just Equal WA spokesperson Brian Greig said prior to the recent state election Mr McGowan gave a commitment to expunge these historic convictions but hasn’t expressed a view on an apology.
“Five Australian jurisdictions have wiped these criminal records from their books, but only three have coupled this action with an official apology. We are calling on Premier McGowan to do both,” Mr Greig said.
Until 1989, consensual sex between men in WA was a criminal office that attracted a penalty of 14 years in prison and between 1989 and 2002 homosexuality was decriminalised for males over 21 and the law until the age of consent was equalised.
“These laws ruined lives, careers, reputations, led to marriage breakdowns, social isolation and suicide. Some men who lived through this dark period, despite the repeal of homosexual offences, continue to have criminal records that affect their lives in areas such as work, volunteering or travelling,” Mr Grieg said.
He said a parliamentary apology would go a long way to healing the psychological scars of many men, righting the wrongs of the past.
“It’s important that our parliament engages in reconciliation with its LGBTI community, especially as we progress towards equal marriage. We must acknowledge the past to build a bridge to the future,” Mr Greig said.
Last November, the Queensland government released draft legislation to parliament to expunge similar convictions held by Queensland men.