First homosexual convictions expunged

Two men have had their convictions for homosexual offences wiped from the record.

They're the first to have their records expunged under the Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Act.

"I am delighted that the first two applicants have had their records cleared," said Justice Minister Andrew Little, calling the convictions "unjust".

"Those men can now move on with their lives, knowing the state has acknowledged they should never have been convicted, and now they legally never were."

This means when asked, men who were once convicted of homosexual offences don't have to declare it, and it won't show up in Government records or criminal history checks.

Then-Justice Minister Amy announced early in 2017 people convicted under anti-homosexuality laws prior to 1986 would soon be able to apply to have their convictions expunged. The change of Government didn't get in the way, with Mr Little picking up the Bill. It passed its third reading in April with unanimous support.

Homosexuality between men was legalised in 1986. It was never illegal for women.

"Three decades ago, Parliament reformed the law so gay people could live their lives without fear of unjust criminal prosecution," said Mr Little. "But for all of that time, some men have lived with the stigma of a historical criminal record for being gay before reform."

Mr Little said there are more applications being processed.

"I hope that today other men who were wrongly convicted of homosexual offences, and have lived with that stigma, will know they can apply for expungement without fear."

It's estimated around 1000 people qualify for expungement.