Equality advocates have praised Tasmania’s Upper House for agreeing to legislation to wipe historical criminal records for gay and trans Tasmanians.

The Upper House yesterday unanimously agreed to the legislation, with several members offering heartfelt apologies to those who were convicted.

Tasmania was the last state to decriminalise homosexuality and the only state to criminalise crossdressing. The Upper House blocked the decriminalisation of homosexuality repeatedly in the 1990s.

“The Upper House’s decision and the apologies that were offered were deeply moving and an important moment of healing for many Tasmanians,” said equality advocate Rodney Croome.

“Gay and transgender Tasmanians who were convicted under our awful former laws will no longer have to endure the stigma and disadvantage of having a criminal record.

“I applaud the Upper House, those members who offered apologies, and everyone who worked so hard on this legislation including Vanessa Goodwin, Robin Banks, Ruth Forrest and Matt Groom.”

Croome said the decision sends a message relevant to the marriage equality debate.

“Tasmania is a better place for having decriminalised homosexuality twenty years ago despite the dire and ultimately groundless fears of those who opposed that reform,” he said.

“I urge all Australians to vote ‘yes’ so parliament doesn’t have to apologise in twenty years’ time for delaying marriage equality.”

Earlier this year, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman became the first Liberal Premier in Australia to apologise for the past ill-treatment of LGBTI Tasmanians.

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