Queensland’s expungement scheme for men with historical gay sex convictions will finally begin at the end of the month.
Homosexual sex was decriminalised in Queensland in 1991, but men who were charged for consensual activity under several laws prior to that still hold the criminal convictions, affecting their employment and travel.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said from June 30, Queenslanders convicted of such offences can apply to have them expunged.
“The laws passed by the Palaszczuk Government last year are now ready to be implemented and those convicted under discriminatory laws of the past can apply to have criminal convictions expunged,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“Consensual homosexual activity stopped being a crime in 1991, but many people still live with the harmful legacy of the past legislation.
“A criminal conviction has serious consequences on a person, potentially affecting employment and travel opportunities, not to mention the stigma.”
Under the legislation, the Director-General of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General will be responsible for deciding applications for expungement.
A person can apply to have records expunged for eligible offences if they were charged or convicted under the law, as it stood, before the decriminalisation of consensual adult homosexual activity in Queensland on January 19, 1991.
Mrs D’Ath encouraged those who may be eligible to seek advice and make an application.
“Once a conviction is expunged a person does not need to disclose the offence nor be discriminated against for non-disclosure in their employment or profession,” she said.
“We know this doesn’t make up for previous prejudice and discrimination but it is an important step we can and will take to right these past wrongs.”
The legislation sets out the specific criteria for a conviction or charge to be expunged, differing depending on the offence.
The laws also allow for application for expungement of a deceased person’s conviction by a personal representative, their spouse at the time of death, parent, adult child, adult sibling or a person who was in a close personal relationship immediately before death.
‘Fear and shame still surrounds the convictions’
In April, QNews Magazine shared the story of Alf Stanton, also known as local drag queen Freda Mae West, who sadly passed away in 2010 leaving no one eligible to apply for expungement of gay convictions on his behalf.
Another Queensland man affected, Alan Raabe (pictured, centre), was charged with aggravated sexual assault after he brushed the groin of an undercover police officer who had lured him into a sting at a Cairns beat in 1988.
“As far as I am aware I’m the only person affected by these laws who have been prepared to speak publicly about this,” he told a government committee last year.
“This is possibly an indication of the fear and the shame that still surrounds [the gay convictions] to this very day.
“To have them expunged will go a huge way towards to dealing with this.”
(Photo by LGBTI Legal Service)