Calls To Compensate Tasmanians Convicted Under Historical Homosexuality Laws
An independent review into Tasmania’s Expungement of Historical Offences, including those of homosexuality and cross-dressing, has made strong recommendations that those convicted should be recompensed for the damages caused by such draconian laws.
In 1997, Tasmania became the last Australian state of territory to decriminalise consensual homosexual acts. Following this in 2001 Tasmania repealed laws against cross-dressing.
The review comes after a 2017 apology from former Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman to those who had been convicted under what he described as unfair and unjust laws, adding “Tasmanians suffered as a result of these laws. We apologise to those directly affected, and to their families and loved ones.
“Despite the repeal of homosexual offences, some men continue to have criminal records that affect aspects of their lives including work, volunteering and travelling. It’s something they have to live with every day. We can’t change the past, nor can we undo that harm. We can apologise for it and we do so.”
According to the review, prior to 1984, 96 Tasmanian residents had been charged with criminal offences under the now repealed laws, with only 10 of these people still alive.
The report also went on to say that only 10 people had applied to have historical charges overturned since the laws came into effect. However, none have been successful in expunging historical criminal offences relating tohomosexuality and cross-dressing. This low number of applicants could be due in part to the difficulty relating to access of appropriate channels, recourses and legal avenues.
One organisation that has welcome the findings of the review are Equality Tasmania, who have urged the Tasmanian State Government to fast track compensation payouts. With the group including such a recommendation in its own submission to the review.
Equality Tasmania spokesperson Rodney Croome to this point added that “not including them originally was a mistake.
“The injustice suffered demands more than acknowledgement and expungement, it demands recompense. We call on the government to act quickly on the review’s recommendations, given the advanced age of many of the men convicted under our former laws.”
Tasmanian Attorney-General Elise Archer in response, said that the government would consider the recommendations “in due course” and that “the recommendations put forward in the review largely focus on fine-tuning and promotion of the scheme.”