TASMANIAN gay rights activists have welcomed the state government’s tabling of legislation to erase the criminal records of men convicted for gay sex.

Tasmania’s laws criminalising gay sex were the last to be repealed in Australia, 20 years ago.

“Sex between men should never have been a crime and I welcome the state government’s move to erase the stigma of criminality that still casts a shadow over the lives of many Tasmanians,” said Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Rodney Croome.

“Men convicted under our old laws will now be able to apply for jobs and volunteer positions without the stigma of a conviction on their record.”

Croome said he looks forward to Premier Will Hodgman’s apology to those who were convicted under the state’s former laws.

In 2015 Hodgman was the first Australian political leader to commit to such an apology.

“An apology will help heal the deep wounds of the past and allow not only the LGBTI community but the whole of Tasmanian society to move on from one of the worst periods in our history,” said Croome.

The decades-long campaign to repeal Tasmania’s anti-gay laws involved the largest acts of gay rights civil disobedience in Australian history, as well as large anti-gay rallies. The campaign drew in Amnesty International, the United Nations and the High Court, setting new legal precedents for LGBTI rights worldwide.

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