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New Zealand finally passes law to expunge historical gay convictions

New Zealand finally passes law to expunge historical gay convictions

New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams formally apologizes to men convicted of homosexuality. Photo: YouTube

New Zealand will finally pardon all men convicted of homosexuality before its decriminalization in 1986.

The New Zealand Parliament passed the law to quash the historical convictions this week. The Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill was first introduced to parliament in June last year.

Almost 1,000 men will have their criminal records cleared of three crimes that was illegal until; sodomy, indecency between males and keeping a place of resort for homosexual acts.

In July last year the New Zealand Parliament delivered an official apology to men convicted of homosexuality.

But this week’s official pardon ‘sends a clear signal that discrimination against gay people is no longer acceptable, and we are committed to putting right wrongs from the past’, said Justice Minister Andrew Little.

‘I would like to apologise again to all the men and members of the rainbow community who have been affected by the prejudice, stigma and other negative effects caused by convictions for historical homosexual offences,’ he said.

Expungement is not enough

While LGBTI advocates welcomed the expungement, they have also called for compensation of the people convicted of homosexuality.

‘People’s lives have been wrecked by an injustice that was done to them by the law and it is really the least they can expect to have some kind of recompense in their old age for this rather terrible thing that has happened to them,’ veteran gay rights campaigner Bill Logan told The Guardian.

The UK, Canada, Germany and some states in Australia that have also offered similar pardons.

Germany also approved compensation payment for those men pardoned. It will pay men €3,000 (US$3,684) for each conviction and €1,500 (US$1,842) for every year spent in jail.

Canada will also pay compensation for people in the armed forces and federal agencies who faced discrimination.