The state government in Western Australia has just apologized to men convicted of homosexuality.
Premier Mark McGowan delivered the emotional apology speech in Parliament today. He also introduced a bill to expunge the criminal records of men convicted of homosexuality. That means not only owuld their convictions be overturned but it would be like they never existed.
‘Today is about doing what we can to right the wrongs of the past,’ McGowan said in Parliament.
‘On behalf of the Government of Western Australia, I am sorry for the hurt, for the prejudice, for the discrimination that ruined lives.
‘For decades in WA, unjust laws against homosexual acts were used to shame homosexual men, deny their human rights, and deny their humanity.’
The Premier hoped the apology – even though it came too late for some men who had already died – would give their families some solace.
‘I sincerely hope today’s apology and these expungement provisions allow our LGBTI community to heal from an era of blatant discrimination,’ McGowan said.
‘From a time where the Parliament and its justice system tried to shame you out of your sexuality.
‘Today, in this place that has caused you pain in the past, I hope we can now forge a future of healing and hope.’
WA’s opposition party has not yet made it clear whether it would support the Bill. However, its party leader Mike Nahan did also apologize to the men in parliament today.
‘I hope all members in both Houses see the fundamental justice of the Bill we will introduce and support its swift passage,’ Premier McGowan said in his speech.
Today, we expunge historical LGBTIQ offences and close an era of blatant discrimination and mistreatment. It’s long overdue. pic.twitter.com/FAmHpWx1ja
— Mark McGowan (@MarkMcGowanMP) November 1, 2017
Rainbow Rights WA
WA’s leading LGBTI advocacy group, Rainbow Rights WA, commended the government for its apology and Expungement Bill.
One of its members recalled what it was like to live in state where homosexuality was criminalized.
‘My memory is really one of fear. Fear of persecution for being gay; of gay bashings and the inevitable victim blaming; fear of entrapment, fear of embarrassing your family; the constant anxiety of knowing that society thought of you as a criminal… conviction or not,’ Neil said.
Those who would like to have their criminal record expunged must apply to the WA Government. Relatives of those who have already passed away can also apply to have their convictions removed.
WA joins a number of other Australian states to apologize to and expunge the convictions of gay men. The other states include; Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.