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News, Tasmania

Time running out for compensation over historical gay convictions

Equality Tasmania has called on the State Government to act quickly to compensate those with convictions under historic homosexual and transgender laws.

The recommendation has been made by an independent review of Tasmania’s 2018 legislation expunging historical criminal records for gay sex and cross-dressing.

Equality Tasmania recommended financial compensation in its submission to the review.

Spokesperson Rodney Croome said that people who had been victimised by the past homophobic and transphobic laws deserved compensation.

“It was a mistake not to include financial compensation in the original expungement legislation, given the trauma, indignity, and disadvantage caused by conviction,” said Croome.

“The injustice suffered by those who were convicted demands more than acknowledgement and expungement, it demands recompense.

“We call on the government to act quickly on the review’s recommendations, given the advanced age of many of the men convicted under our former laws.”

The review also recommended widening the scope of convictions for which expungement is allowed, to include resisting or obstructing police enforcing the repealed laws.

It further determined that the application forms for expungement of a conviction are currently too hard to access.

There have been no successful applications under the expungement legislation, despite estimates that ten people convicted under the old laws remain alive.

Ahead of the passage of the 2018 bill, then-Premier Will Hodgman became Australia’s first state leader to promise an apology for historic convictions, which he delivered when the bill was introduced.

Tasmania was the last Australian state to decriminalise homosexuality, repealing the laws in 1997.

When legislation was passed two years ago allowing the expungement of these historical offences, former Tasmanian anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks said that they should never have existed.

“[Being LGBTIQ] doesn’t hurt anybody,” said Banks at the time.

β€œIt was a victimless crime, and that’s a really important thing to remember.

β€œI really ask people to think, ‘Well, what difference does it make to you if somebody loves a person of the same gender as themself?'”

Tasmania now has world-leading anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTIQ people and other marginalised groups.

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