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Australian state election pledge to end historical convictions for gay sex

The Labor Party in the Australian state of Victoria has pledged to wipe convictions for homosexual acts that were prosecuted prior to decriminalization in 1981 and has called on the Liberal Party to do the same
Daniel Andrews (center) with members of Rainbow Labor Victoria

The Labor Party in the state of Victoria has pledged to wipe convictions for consensual homosexual acts that were prosecuted before the state decriminalized homosexuality if it wins government at next year’s state election and has called on the ruling Liberal Party to make the same commitment.

Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews made the commitment today as the state capital of Melbourne held its annual pride march.

Prior to 1981 gay men caught having sex in Victoria could be prosecuted for ‘buggery’ – leading to the life long stigma of having a conviction for a sex crime on your record.

‘The time has come to clean the slate for those who have carried this weight for no other reason than they were gay at a time when this was held to be illegal,’ Andrews said in a statement.

‘The pain and stigma of a criminal record has been a burden for many gay men for too long.’

The Victorian Opposition called on Liberal state Premier Ted Baillieu and his Attorney-General Robert Clark to make the same commitment.

However one government MP, Clem Newton-Brown, has already begun drafting an options paper on the issue for the Victorian Government and a spokesperson for the Attorney-General accused Labor of jumping on his coattails.

‘Labor had 11 years to act on this issue, and did nothing,' the spokesman told The Age newspaper.

‘Labor are now simply trying to freeload on Mr Newton-Brown's initiative and hard work.’

Many men who have historical convictions for consensual gay  sex have found themselves barred from working in positions where they are in contact with children.

The Victorian Greens party also supports reform on the issue.

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