GRAI welcome Premier’s apology for historical convictions

GRAI (GLBTI Rights in Ageing Inc) say they warmly welcome the WA government’s introduction of legislation to remove historical gay convictions.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan will make a formal apology today to people who were charged over their sexuality prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1990. The government will then introduce legislation that will remove those convictions.

WA’s leading advocacy organisation for older LGBTI people said the move was highly significant, both in practical and symbolic terms.

June Lowe, GRAI Chair commented, saying the previous laws had affected generations of men.

“Laws which criminalised homosexual acts effectively criminalised whole generations of gay men. These discriminatory laws therefore had a deleterious effect on all gay men, not just those who were convicted and charged.

“State sanctioned discrimination affected all aspects of gay men’s lives: having to be secretive for fear of losing work or housing, or potentially being rejected by ones friends or families, and many lived (and some still do live) in fear of reprisals and endure/d the stress of internalised shame.

“Sadly, these discriminatory laws also negatively affected the heterosexual society, in that they reinforced uncompromising attitudes which marginalised gay men. Our society is still grappling with the residual effects of this mind-set: we are all made poorer by prejudice.

“For these reasons, the Premier’s apology and the introduction of the Expungement Bill has enormous healing potential, for all gay men and also for the wider community. Acknowledging that historical discriminatory laws were wrong and taking steps for reparation invites everyone to let go of past hurts and hurtful behaviours and work towards a society that celebrates diversity.

While the apology and legislation are welcomed GRAI said the recent debate over marriage equality had shown that LGBTI people still face a great deal of stigma and discrimination.

“Recent debates on marriage equality have demonstrated that there is still much work to be done before we can lay claim to being an unprejudiced country. The LGBTI community has struggled for decades for recognition as equal citizens and these progressive actions by the WA government are a tribute to their persistence.

“We unreservedly welcome the Premier’s apology and the expungement Bill. These are of great moment in the history of LGBTI rights, moving us closer to ensuring legal and cultural safety for everyone, irrespective of their sexuality or gender identity”.

The Premier is expected top deliver the apology at noon. 

OIP Staff