Government apologises for historic gay 'crimes'

  • 06/07/2017

The Government will formerly apologise to gay men convicted of homosexual crimes under old laws in Parliament on Thursday.

Justice Minister Amy Adams will deliver the apology ahead of the first reading of a Bill that will expunge the crimes from the record, for gay men convicted of homosexual offences more than 30 years ago.

"Officials say there are probably around 1000 men who are eligible for expungement," Ms Adams told The AM Show.

The motion will seek to apologise to the men convicted of consensual adult activity and "recognise the tremendous hurt and suffering those men and their families have gone through".

It also seeks to recognise the continued effects those convictions have - including a requirement to declare criminal history leading to possible restrictions on employment, travel and other aspects of their lives.

"We hope that it assures them of the sense of recognition of the hurt and the trauma that they've been through and Parliament's deep intention to do what they can to make this right," she said.

"We hope that that recognition and expression of it will be meaningful to them."

Ms Adams said it was appropriate for Parliament, rather than the Government, to make the apology because it was successive governments that were responsible.

The move for an apology comes a year after campaigner Wiremu Demchick presented a petition to Parliament, signed by more than 2000 people, seeking a formal apology and for the overturning of convictions.

Members from across Parliament will be given the chance to speak on the motion before the first reading of legislation to expunge convictions, announced by Ms Adams earlier this year.

Expungement decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Secretary of Justice, who will determine whether the conduct the person was charged over would still be illegal today.

It applies to offences relating to sexual conduct between consenting men aged 16 years and over.

Applications can be made by family on behalf of deceased relatives.