Alex GreenwichTHE Victorian Government’s announcement yesterday to expunge historical criminal convictions relating to homosexual sex acts has prompted calls for similar legislation in other states.

Sydney state independent MPAlex Greenwich has announced he planned to introduce similar legislation into NSW parliament. He said he would review the proposed Victorian legislation and introduce his own bill sometime this year.

“2014 marks 30 years since decriminalisation and I will work with my state parliament colleagues to right this historic wrong that saw gay men charged for being who they are and loving who they love,” Greenwich said today.

Despite initial uncertainty around government support for the issue, NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith has indicated he is open to supporting legislation to expunge gay sex convictions.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has also called on the NSW Government to remove these convictions.

“30 years after decriminalisation, it is time for people who were unjustly convicted prior to 1984 to be able to have their convictions removed,” NSW GLRL Convener Justin Koonin said.

“In a democracy, when societal values change, the legal system needs to adapt, and it has to make room for some form of redress too. Expunging historical convictions for acts no longer considered a crime is a practical, and powerful, way to do this.”

NSW GLRL also announced it will call for an apology from the state government for these convictions.

They also said plans to expunge historical convictions for homosexual sex should also include those convicted after 1984 because of the unequal age of consent laws for same-sex sexual acts. Prior to legislative reform in 2003, the age of consent in NSW for homosexual sex was 18, whereas for heterosexual sex it was 16.

”We welcome the NSW Attorney General’s openness to expunging convictions prior to 1984 and call on the NSW State Government to ensure that any convictions between 1984 and 2003, when we had unequal age of consent laws in the state of NSW, are included in any such process,” NSW GLRL Policy Officer Jed Horner told the Star Observer.

“People engaging in consensual sex, above what we now consider to be our age of consent, between 1984 and 2003, should also have the opportunity to have the injustice of their earlier convictions acknowledged and remedied, by expunging their convictions.”

The Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group has also called for similar legislation in the state, with spokesperson Rodney Croome calling on the state’s three major political parties to apologise for the “deep damage” caused by criminal convictions for homosexual sex.

“Expunging records will benefit those men who were arrested, but an official apology will go further by benefiting the far larger group of men who suffered, and still suffer, from the prejudice and stigma criminalisation fostered,” Croome said.

“Tasmania’s laws had a particularly onerous impact because they lasted longer than in other Australian states and because they prescribed the most severe punishment in the western world, a maximum of 21 years in jail.”

The Office of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner is currently examining the possibility of expunging the state’s historical convictions for gay sex, decriminalised as recently as 1997.

RELATED: Victorian Government to allow historical gay sex convictions to be expunged

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