Petition to wipe homosexual convictions reaches Parliament

Petition to wipe homosexual convictions reaches Parliament

As the 30th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality is celebrated this week, a petition has made it to Parliament asking for convictions for being gay expunged.

The petition has 2112 signatures, including those of a number of MPs, and will be tabled in Parliament on Wednesday by Green Party spokesman for rainbow issues Kevin Hague.

It also calls for an official apology.

The Homosexual Law Reform Act was signed by the then Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves on July 11, 1986, and came into effect on August 8 that year.

It decriminalised sexual relations between men aged 16 and over, and meant men having consensual sex with each other couldn't be prosecuted or even jailed. Sex between women wasn't illegal.

"I think the mythology is that Queen Victoria couldn't believe that two women would ever have sex together," Mr Hague says.

The Campaign to Pardon Gays in Aotearoa started in late 2014.

"It is the hope of the campaign that Parliament will take this opportunity to work towards the restoration of the dignity of those wrongly convicted, and attempt reconciliation with the wider community," organiser Wiremu Demchick says.

Mr Hague says he's proud to table the petition, saying it'll start a "process of reversing those convictions".

"Convictions for consensual sex between men blighted the lives of many, and the Government is obliged to do what it can to put things right.

"Hundreds of people in New Zealand today still feel the stigma and trauma associated with that time, when people were fired from their jobs, harassed or thrown out of home just for being gay," he says.

While the convictions could seem so long ago, Mr Hague says there are still people who have it "hanging over their head".

Justice Minister Amy Adams said she has discussed the issue with Mr Hague previously, but it's more complicated than simply offering a blanket apology.

She told reporters the old law didn't distinguish between consensual and non-consensual acts, so it would be a matter of going through each case and making a determination.

However, Ms Adams said she would be happy to look at any individual cases that were brought to her attention.

The petition will now be considered by a select committee.

Newshub. / NZN