Expungement of historical homosexual convictions bill passes

The McGowan government have successfully passed their Historical Homosexual Convictions bill.

The new law will create a pathway which will see gay men who were arrested, charged and convicted of offences relating to their sexuality being able to apply for a complete expungement of their criminal records.

Premier Mark McGowan vowed to take action on the issue when he was in opposition, and introduced the legislation into parliament last year. In 2016 McGowan said it was wrong for people to still be affected by laws which no longer exist.

“LGBTI Western Australians should not have to carry the stigma of a criminal record for consensual acts that are no longer considered a crime.”

Today that promise was delivered, and soon people who were affected by the convictions, or their surviving relatives, will be able to make an application to the Department of Justice to have their criminal records wiped clean.

When the bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly in 2017 the Premier delivered a historic apology to the LGBTIQ+ community.

“These men have lost jobs, friends, family, their freedom and their dignity. They have been prevented from travelling, gaining certain employment and volunteering. These laws turned law-abiding citizens into criminals due only to their sexual orientation.

“Gay Western Australian men were targeted and charged under these laws that were borne out of bigotry and fear.” the Premier said last year.

While the legislation was quickly passed by the lower house, it went through several rounds of debate in the Legislative Council.

Attorney General John Quigley said it was a shame that Western Australia had been one of the last jurisdictions to take action on the issue.

“I am pleased that one of the McGowan Labor Government’s key election commitments has been delivered with the passage of this legislation through the State Parliament.

“While it is a shame that Western Australia was one of the last jurisdictions to consider a scheme for the expungement of historical homosexual convictions, the Government has moved swiftly to implement this important reform.” Quigley said.

“We recognised that many members of our community continue to carry the stigma of a criminal record for consensual acts that are no longer considered a crime in WA.

“The Government has also offered an apology to the LGBTIQ community for the discrimination, hurt and trauma they have suffered as a result of unjust convictions.

“People convicted under these laws will no longer need to have a criminal record hanging over their head for offences that are not illegal today.”

OIP Staff