A man who fought for decades to be cleared of criminal convictions for homosexuality met with Andrew Little this week, to tell the Justice Minister what a recent law change means to him.
This week, Parliament unanimously voted for a Bill that enables men convicted of homosexual offences to have their records wiped clean.
The man, who we’ll call John to respect his wish to remain anonymous, is one of approximately a thousand New Zealanders who still have a historical criminal conviction for homosexuality.
The Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill introduces a scheme to expunge convictions for men for offences that were decriminalised by the Homosexual Reform Act 1986. Homosexuality was a crime in New Zealand until the 1986 Act was passed.
"No one should be forced to go through the court system just for who they are," says John.
He told Andrew Little about his experience with police, who would use threats of public shaming to force a guilty plea:
"The cops rang my lawyer and said 'Tell him to plead guilty or we'll make sure it goes in The Truth [newspaper]."
Mr Little told Newshub Nation he was pleased the Bill passed.
"A real hallmark of this law was that Parliament was unanimous, both left and right. It showed that it shouldn't be the province of politics to argue about your rights because of your sexual identity."
John says the new law is "probably the best thing that's happened in modern history".