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WA Will Not Join VIC in Quashing Gay Convictions

MischinMichael

After Victoria abolished the convictions of gay men for consensual same sex acts prior to the decriminalization of homosexuality, activists called on politicians nationwide to follow suit.

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In January, after the bill had been introduced, OUTinPerth asked WA’s Attorney General Michael Mischin whether Western Australia had any plans to take on similar legislation. A spokesperson for the Attorney General stated that the state had no such plans.

The Attorney General’s spokespersons highlighted; “a person can apply to have an offence deemed “spent,” making it illegal for a person to be discriminated against in any way in relation to a conviction that has been “spent”.

Last week, when Victoria passed its legislation, Greens Member for the South Metropolitan Region Lynn MacLaren called on WA’s Attorney General to reconsider the matter.

“There is no doubt that legislation should be introduced in this state to remove stigma and end a chapter for older gay men in Western Australia who were unfairly punished for being gay.

“In Western Australia the LGBTI community are continuously campaigning for equality on multiple fronts. I certainly believe it is time that those once unfairly condemned for having consensual gay sex have their convictions expunged. It is fair to remove unjust convictions that promoted prejudice and hate; these men deserve a clean slate.” MacLaren said.

OUTinPerth contacted Attorney General Mischin’s office for comment, and he replied that legally quashing past homosexual convictions was “probably unnecessary”:

“WA has no current plans for such legislation, however under the Spent Convictions Act 1988 (WA), a person can get an offence “spent,” making it illegal for a person to be discriminated against in any way in relation to a conviction that has been “spent.”

“Blanket legislation to ‘erase’ such convictions is not practical and probably unnecessary. It was the policy in Western Australia, for many years before the decriminalisation of homosexual conduct, not to prosecute so-called homosexual offences if the parties were adults exercising informed consent. The description of the offence specified on a criminal record would not necessarily reflect the circumstances in which it was committed, and each conviction would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis to see if it were appropriate to be expunged.”

Sophie Joske

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