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July 24, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Parliament Apologises for Historic Convictions

Justice Minister Amy Adams motioned a formal apology on July 6 to people convicted for historic homosexual activity.

Before 1986, engaging in consensual homosexual sex was illegal in New Zealand. Despite  decriminalisation via the passage of the Homosexual Law Reform Act, prior convictions remained on individuals’ criminal records.

Adams made the apology during the first formal reading of the Criminal Records (Expungement of Historical Homosexual Convictions) Bill. The Bill aims to “reduce prejudice, stigma, and all other negative effects” that arise from the historic convictions.

Those who had a conviction will be able to apply to the Secretary of Justice to have their convictions removed.

The apology seeks to remove the “taint and the label of criminality” experienced by those convicted and was passed unanimously.

“Today we put it on the record that Parliament deeply regrets the hurt and stigma suffered by the hundreds of men who were affected, and that we recognise the continued effects the convictions have had on their lives,” Adams said.

There was no opposition to the motion, and the public in the galleries rose to sing a waiata in acknowledgement.

University of Canterbury Law Professor Elisabeth McDonald told Salient that, while there had been a call for an apology to make visible the tangible impact criminalisation has had, “it hasn’t, and it won’t, stop homophobic violence in New Zealand.”

“It doesn’t mean that violence based on someone’s sexual identity doesn’t exist in the community; it doesn’t mean people are safe when they are openly affectionate to their queer partner in public. Decriminalisation was a statement, but wasn’t the end of discrimination — and neither is this apology.”

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