Tasmania state government will introduce legislation next year to expunge historic convictions for gay sex.
Tasmania was the last Australian state to decriminalize consensual sexual activity between men in 1997 – but it will be the first to formally apologize to those arrested under its former anti-gay laws and their families.
‘The legislation will ensure that any individual prosecuted under these offenses will no longer suffer distress or be disadvantaged by a criminal record in relation to travel, employment and volunteering,’ said state Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin.
Under Tasmania’s former anti-gay laws, the maximum penalty for gay sex was 21 years in jail – the highest in the Western world.
‘For those men who were prosecuted in Tasmania for simply being in same-sex relationships it will be a great relief to be rid of the disadvantage and stigma that comes with an unfair criminal record,’ said Rodney Croome, spokesperson for the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group.
‘I am proud that Tasmania will be the first state to apologize to those arrested and their families because it will lift a burden from their shoulders and send the strongest message yet that Tasmania is a progressive and inclusive society.’
27 years after being arrested here, Rodney Croome is back on Salamanca. Government to expunge historical convictions pic.twitter.com/10HWBzJkCE
— Richard Baines (@RichardMBaines) December 17, 2015
Croome also welcomed the government’s decision to allow the possibility of expungement for other former ‘crimes.’
‘Tasmania was the only state to criminalize cross dressing and I look forward to people targeted under those provisions having he opportunity to clear their names and their records.’
Four other states – South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory – have already passed expungement legislation, but none have offered apologies to those arrested.