The push to expunge outdated gay sex convictions in Victoria has received bipartisan support as state Labor announced it would expunge convictions if elected in 2014.

At Victoria’s Pride March in St Kilda on February 3, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews (pictured) announced Labor would remove criminal convictions related to gay sex prior to 1981 when consensual sex between men was decriminalised.

Liberal Prahran MP Clem Newton-Brown has been investigating the issue over the past year and is putting together an options paper for Attorney-General Robert Clark to consider.

“The time has come to clean the slate for those who have carried this weight for no other reason than they were gay at a time when this was held to be illegal,” Andrews said.

“A conviction also has serious practical implications and may have prevented some gay men from getting employed and making a life for themselves.

“We now live in a different time – a better time – and a spent conviction scheme for this category of offence is appropriate to reflect modern community values. It is time to right a wrong.”

At the march, Newton-Brown said the 1981 decriminalisation of homosexuality was a seminal moment for the community.

“But an important point is, no government since that time has addressed the issue of expunging the records of now elderly men who are living with convictions for gay sex,” he said.

He said Port Phillip council candidate Peter de Groot gave him Noel Tovey’s book about his life and living with his conviction at last year’s Midsumma Festival which spurred him to take the issue on.

“I approached the attorney general after consulting my colleagues, who has asked me to methodically work through with the consultation with the community [and] the legal fraternity to come up with a solution as to how we can do what the UK has recently done in expunging the records,” he said.

“It’s with great pride, I suppose, that my good friend Daniel Andrews has committed support to this idea.”

Shadow Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the issue should be referred to the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

He said if the Baillieu government failed to act, an elected Labor Government would give the issue to the VLRC within the first 100 days of office and call on it to report back within six months.

In 1981, the Hamer Liberal government decriminalised homosexuality in Victoria.

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