THE New Zealand government has announced it will pardon the gay and bisexual men previously convicted of historic gay sex offences in the country.

The move was announced by Justice Minister Amy Adams and will allow nearly 200 people convicted before homosexual law reform in 1986 to have their convictions erased.

In a report by the NZ Herald, Adams said those with convictions continued to face stigma and discrimination.

“There is no doubt that homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted and branded as criminals for consensual activity suffered tremendous hurt and stigma,” she said.

“We are sorry for what those men and their families have gone through and the continued effect the convictions have had on them.”

Adams apologised on behalf of the Crown and said parliament could consider a formal apology when it considers related legislation.

“Although we can never undo the impact on the lives of those affected, it’s hoped that this scheme will provide a meaningful pathway for the convictions to be expunged,” she said.

The law change will create a new scheme wherein people that have been convicted of indecency between males, sodomy, or keeping places of resort for homosexual acts can apply to the Secretary of Justice for a pardon.

It will not be an automatic pardon. Instead the government will consider each pardon on a case-by-case basis.

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