GRAI welcome bill to expunge historic homosexual convictions

Western Australia’s advocacy group for older LGBTI+ people has welcomed the passage of theĀ Historic Homosexual Convictions Expungement Bill in parliament this week.

GLBTI Rights in Ageing Inc (GRAI) have voiced their support for the legislation that allows for the expungement of convictions for actions which are no longer considered criminal.

GRAI’s Chair June Lowe says this is important legislation that draws a strong line under old homophobic attitudes.

“In enabling people to clear their criminal records, it underscores that those historic views were wrong: people never should have been criminalised on the basis of their sexuality,” Lowe said.

“Homosexual acts were only decriminalised in 1009. The old homophobic laws have had an enormous impact on the lives of older members of our community – creating stigma and shame for LGBTI people and fostering discriminatory attitudes within the wider community”

Prior to the passing of the expungement legislation, Premier Mark McGowan delivered an official apology on behalf of the government to those affected by past discriminatory laws last November.

“This legislation, together with the apology, is an important element in reforming community attitudes as well as healing past wrongs.”

Lowe says it is critical that those who are eligible to apply for expungement are made aware of the new legislation and how they can go about clearing their names from criminal records.

“This is a good piece of legislation, with an emphasis on making the access to justice as simple as possible and not subject to delays,” Lowe continued.

“It will be an administrative process (and application to the CEO of the Justice Department) not involving a court, or the need for lawyers or costs. Bearing in mind that applicants may be elderly, this ease of access is important.”

GRAI are also planning to document people’s experiences in applying for the expungements, to prepare for a future review gauging the success of the process.

OIP Staff

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