Gay sex convictions from more than 30 years ago could be wiped from personal records by the Victorian government, ending decades of anxiety for gay men.

Liberal MP Clem Newton Brown is currently investigating different options to have convictions for homosexual acts before the laws were changed expunged.

In Victoria, consensual sex between men was decriminalised in 1981, while other states introduced similar laws between 1975 and 1997.

It is estimated there are hundreds of men in Victoria who were charged with ‘loitering for homosexual purposes’ and other charges.

In May this year, the UK government introduced new laws that enabled men previously convicted on similar charges to have their records cleared.

In 2010, conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron promised to clear these criminal convictions before the last election.

In September, Monash Law academic Paula Gerber spoke out against these ‘spent convictions’ in Victoria.

While no Australian state or territory has followed the UK’s example, Victoria is the only state where residents do not have the right to withhold information about certain convictions that occurred over 10 years ago.

Victorian police are governed by policy that do not allow them to disclose records older than 10 years, however there are exceptions.

Liberty Victoria vice president and long time human rights activist Jamie Gardiner said many of the men convicted of these offences were deeply shamed at the time.

“In principle, the laws were bad, the convictions were therefore bad, and they should be acknowledged,” he said.

“There are still people living… with stigma, burden and distress caused by the unfair application of bad laws which should never have existed and no longer do.”

Newton Brown told the Star Observer he had been working on the issue for most of the year.

“It’s encouraging the attorney-general [Robert Clark] has sought a proposal from me, which will include what has been done in the UK, to come up with an options page,” he said.

The Prahran MP said while it was an important and symbolic gesture, it was also a practical solution for gay men.

He said the existing convictions may have had an impact on seeking employment and volunteering where police record checks are necessary.

Mental health implications were also of concern.

“If a conservative party in the UK can do it, why can’t we?” he said.

He added he had received an “extremely strong” level of support from Coalition colleagues.

In October, the NSW government said it has no plans to expunge the criminal records of people convicted under sodomy laws, active in the state till the mid-80s, despite calls for law reform.

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