Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

17 December 2015

Vanessa Goodwin, Attorney-General

Expunging historic homosexual convictions

The Tasmanian Liberal Government will introduce legislation next year to expunge historic criminal records for consensual homosexual sexual activity.

The Tasmanian Liberal Party, both in Opposition and in Government, has supported expunging historic criminal records for homosexual activity which was previously illegal.

Additionally, a formal apology to those affected, including families and loved ones of those who are deceased, will be made when the legislation is introduced in the house. 

The legislation will expunge convictions for the following offences:

-        Section 122(a) – sexual intercourse against the order of nature;

-        Section 122(c) – consensual sexual intercourse between males; and

-        Section 123 – indecent practices between males.

These sections of the Tasmanian Criminal Code were repealed in 1997 after homosexuality was decriminalised in Tasmania but the repeal did not address the implications for those with existing criminal records pertaining to consensual homosexual activity. 

The legislation will ensure that any individual prosecuted under these offences will no longer suffer distress or be disadvantaged by a criminal record in relation to travel, employment, and volunteering.

The legislation will also allow other offences under which people may have been charged for consensual homosexual activity to be added by regulation at a later date so these historical offences can also be expunged from a person’s criminal record. 

I thank the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner for her report titled ‘Treatment of historic records for consensual homosexual sexual activity and related conduct’, which has helped to progress this important issue.

The Government has approved some variations from the model for expunging offences proposed by the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, in order to allow us to implement legislation and open the scheme to expunge offences as efficiently and as soon as possible.

Rather than requiring the establishment of a Historic Criminal Records Expert Panel as proposed by the Commissioner, applications will be processed through the Secretary of the Department of Justice, consistent with how other jurisdictions manage this process.

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