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Australia state clears historical gay sex convictions

Australia state clears historical gay sex convictions

Victoria today became the first Australian state to expunge historic gay sex convictions.

Both houses of Victorian parliament passed the Sentencing Amendment (Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement) Bill with three amendments proposed by the Labour Party.

The amended bill includes allowances for posthumous expungements, a provision to amend the state’s Equal Opportunity Act to outlaw discrimination on the basis of an expunged gay sex convictio and an additional purpose to recognize that the convictions should never have been considered crimes.

Victoria state legalized gay sex in 1981 but men with historical convictions still face stigma and discrimination when applying for jobs and traveling.

Hugh de Kretser, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre, lobbied for the change.

He told ABC News, ‘What we’re seeing with massive increase in criminal record checks is that this has much greater potential for discrimination and stigma than it had, say 20 or 30 years ago when these offences were decriminalised.

‘[People with convictions are] extremely concerned because, for example, their workplaces are for the first time requiring all staff to do criminal record checks.

‘So events that were long buried but that resulted in a very unfair and unjust conviction were causing extreme stress for particular people in these situations.

‘Our hope is that other jurisdictions across Australia will follow Victoria’s lead and make this acknowledgement and provide an expungement scheme.’