Criminal Law (Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement) Bill 2017 (QLD)

Friday 12 May 2017 @ 12.08 p.m. | Crime

Yesterday (11 May 2017), the Queensland Government has introduced the Criminal Law (Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement) Bill 2017 into Parliament with the objective of allowing people who have previously been convicted of homosexual offences to apply to have their historical conviction expunged. Consensual adult male homosexual activity ceased to be a criminal offence in Queensland as of 19 January 1991 with 464 people charged with offences up to that date.

The Bill

Similar to the recent Tasmanian Bill, the Queensland Bill will establish an administrative scheme for the expungement, upon application, of convictions or charges for particular historical offences involving homosexual activity. The Bill largely implements recommendations made by the Queensland Law Reform Commission’s report ‘Expunging criminal convictions for historical gay sex offences.’

According to Queensland Attorney General Yvette D’Ath:

“The bill allows a person who has been convicted of, or charged with, an ‘eligible offence’ to apply to the Director-General of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, as the decision-maker, for the expungement of that conviction or charge from relevant public records.”

Eligible offences under the Bill are separated into two main types. The first refers to ‘Criminal Code male homosexual offences’ which mainly concerned sections of the Criminal Code referring to anal intercourse and other indecent acts concerning homosexuality. The second type refers to ‘public morality offences’ which relate to offences such as soliciting for an immoral purpose or behaving in an indecent or offensive manner in a public place.

Expungement

The criteria for the expungement simply requires that the decision maker is satisfied that the act or omission constituting the applied offence, if done at the time of the application, would not constitute an offence under Queensland law. In deciding an application for a public morality offence, the decision-maker must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the conduct relevant to the offence involved homosexual activity and that the conduct would not constitute an offence under the laws of Queensland at the date the application is made.

The Attorney General highlighted the need for the scheme by saying:

“Forcing the repeated disclosure of those convictions and charges to potential employers, public administrators and others has caused people inconvenience and embarrassment and, worst of all, has forced them to continually relive the trauma associated with their arrest, charge and conviction. This has inhibited people from pursuing employment opportunities, volunteering in their communities and fully participating in civic life right up until today.”

As noted above, Tasmania has recently passed similar laws through their Legislative Assembly while New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory have expungement schemes already in place for this type of conviction.

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Sources:

Criminal Law (Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement) Bill 2017, Bill, Explanatory Notes and Speech as published on LawOne

Queensland Parliament apologises to men convicted of gay sex offences

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