The third reading of a Bill to wipe historic homosexual offences from criminal records marks the end of an historic struggle for New Zealand’s gay community says Justice Minister Andrew Little.
The Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill was created in response to a petition to Parliament in 2016 which called for the past convictions of men for consensual homosexual acts to be removed.
It introduces a scheme to expunge convictions for men for specific offences that were decriminalised by the Homosexual Reform Act 1986.
“Thirty-two years ago, Parliament rightly decriminalised offences that had the effect of stigmatising gay men but some have lived with the consequences of those convictions ever since.
“Under this legislation, men who were convicted of specific offences that have since been decriminalised, will be able to apply to be treated as if they had never been convicted.
“I would like to apologise again to all the men and members of the Rainbow Community who have been affected by the prejudice, stigma and other negative effects caused by convictions for historical homosexual offences.
“This Bill sends a clear signal that discrimination against gay people is no longer acceptable and that we are committed to putting right, wrongs from the past.
“Those with convictions, or families of the convicted person who has passed away, will be able to apply to the Secretary for Justice to have their convictions wiped. The Secretary must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the conduct would not be an offence under today’s law,” says Andrew Little.