Tasmania To Expand Expungement For Historical Gay Convictions With Advocates Calling For Compensation

Tasmania To Expand Expungement For Historical Gay Convictions With Advocates Calling For Compensation
Image: Spokesperson for Equality Tasmania, Rodney Croome. Image: Rodney Croome/ Twitter

The Tasmanian Government has drafted a new bill to expand historical gay and transgender criminal changes to be expunged.

The reform to the Expungement of Historical Offences Act 2017, would allow additional charges available to be expunged for individuals who were affected by draconian anti-LGBTQI+ laws.

Whilst many have welcomed the improvements, advocates are calling for the state government to provide compensation to applicants who are deemed successful under the scheme.

Calls For Further Considerations

Equality Tasmania is lobbying the government to consider recommendations made by 2016 independent review into the legislation, to provide a one-off payment to compensate expunged individuals.

Spokesperson for Equality Tasmania, Rodney Croome, explains the impact of old laws have left individuals and families “traumatised forever.”

“Gay and transgender Tasmanians convicted under our repressive former laws too often suffered involuntary outing, deep humiliation, and loss of employment, family and friends,” says Croome.

“It is only fair that one-off compensation is paid to those people who successfully apply for records to be expunged.”

Noting that few applicants have been successfully expunged, Croome says that further promotion of the scheme should also be considered by the Tasmanian government.

“Another recommendation of the 2016 review was more promotion of the Tasmanian scheme so that those who would benefit from expunging their record know this option is available,” explains Croome.

“Many of those convicted under our former laws are quite old now so improvements to the law and better promotion of the law must occur as quickly as possible.”

New Bill Accepting Submissions

The independent review states that the lack of compensation “significantly undermines” the objectives of the scheme.

Furthermore, the recommendation says, “Compensation would obviously help make good the financial losses of those who suffered conviction, stigma and discrimination.”

Expansions within the new bill includes expungement for additional associated charges, such as resisting arrest, in addition to previous anti-gay and anti-cross-dressing laws.

Additional amendments also aim to improve the scheme’s operations and management for applicants seeking expungement.

The government is currently holding public consultations regarding the drafted bill, accepting written submissions either online or through post. Submissions close on Friday September 22, 2023.

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