Labor Government apologises, and moves to expunge historical homosexual convictions
The Palaszczuk Government has today apologised to members of the LGBTI community who were convicted of historical homosexual activity in Queensland, and has introduced legislation to Queensland Parliament today to expunge these historical convictions.
Today in Queensland Parliament, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk formally acknowledged the harm that had been inflicted on people convicted of homosexual activity when it was considered a criminal offence.
“In criminalising homosexual sexual activity between consenting adults, the Legislative Assembly of this State dishonoured its citizens and institutionalised prejudice and discrimination,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“It was this institutionalised prejudice that affected not only those who were convicted of offences, but everyone else who was made to feel that their sexuality was wrong, and they were not accepted by the community.
“Today, in this Legislative Assembly, we placed on the record for future generations our deep regret and say to all those affected, we are sorry that the laws of this state let you down.”
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said introducing legislation to expunge historical homosexual convictions was an important step in addressing the stigma attached to outdated criminal charges and convictions.
“The Criminal Law (Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement) Bill 2017 ensures members of community will no longer be burdened by such criminal charges and convictions,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“Many of those affected have been forced to disclose these convictions repeatedly, when they’ve applied for jobs or travelled overseas.
“Under our legislation, a person convicted of an offence will be able to apply to get the conviction expunged from their criminal record.
“An expunged conviction will restore the person’s position so they are treated in law as if the charge or conviction had never been imposed.”
Mrs D’Ath said under the legislation, the Director-General of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General will be responsible for deciding applications for expungement.
Decisions will also be able to be reviewed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“Under the scheme, a person can apply to have records expunged for eligible offences if they were charged or convicted under the law, as it stood, before the decriminalisation of consensual adult homosexual activity in Queensland in 1991.”
There are two eligible offences outlined in the legislation: former male homosexual offences in the Criminal Code that related to anal intercourse and other sexual activity (referred to as acts of gross indecency), and public morality offences that relate to soliciting for ‘immoral purposes’ in public places and indecent behaviour in public places.
“Our Government recognises that consensual sexual activity between adults should not be treated differently simply because of a person’s sexuality,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“Our legislation aims to right the wrongs of the past.
“We would also like to acknowledge and thank everyone who has contributed and supported making these changes, including the LGBTI Legal Service, Human Rights Law Centre, Community Legal Centres Queensland and Caxton Legal Centre, along with academics and advocates who made submissions to the Queensland Law Reform Commission.
“It is this continuing advocacy and commitment that has helped bring us to where we are today.”