Wiping NZ’s Historical Gay Sex Convictions Might Be Too Difficult


Amy Adams Justice Minister

New Zealand’s Justice Minister has warned expunging historical convictions for consensual gay sex might to be too difficult for the government.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in New Zealand, Green Party MP Kevin Hague (pictured, left) introduced a 2100-signature petition to Parliament, asking for an official apology to those convicted of consensual homosexual acts before the reform in 1986.

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“I am proud to table a petition today that requests that the Government officially apologise to those who were convicted of consensual homosexual acts before 1986, and begin a process of reversing those convictions,” Mr Hague said.

“Convictions for consensual sex between men blighted the lives of many, and the Government is obliged to do what it can to put things right.

“Hundreds of people in New Zealand today still feel the stigma and trauma associated with that time, when people were fired from their jobs, harassed or thrown out of home just for being gay.”

But Justice Minister Amy Adams (pictured, right) said the task of pardoning the gay men was hugely complicated.

“If there are individual cases where they believe there is a need to address them, then we are happy to look at them … but I think responding in a blanket way, on the advice I’ve had, would be very difficult,” she said.

“It’s a very difficult process actually because the way the law is crafted it didn’t distinguish between consensual and non-consensual acts. A lot of the offences are still offences under today’s law around underage children and the like, so it’s not as simple as a blanket approach.

“What we’ve identified is that it would take quite a detailed process if it was even possible to go through case-by-case and work through whether each offence in each case would still be illegal under today’s law.”

Mr Hague said he knew it would be difficult but it was great that the minister was considering wiping the gay men’s convictions.

“The first thing would be the apology, because for so many people that’s the first step in actually putting something right, putting a great wrong right again,” he told Radio NZ.

In May, the Victorian parliament apologised for the state’s historic anti-gay laws and men in the state have been able to apply to have them wiped. Queensland is set to follow later this year.

Meanwhile, New Zealand politicians marked the 30th anniversary of the homosexuality law reform by raising a rainbow flag on the parliament’s grounds for the first time.

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