ADVOCATES HAIL TAS UPPER HOUSE DECISION TO EXPUNGE GAY AND TRANSGENDER CRIMINAL RECORDS

  • September 20, 2017

“Tasmania is a better place for having decriminalised homosexuality twenty years ago despite the dire and ultimately groundless fears of those who opposed that reform. I urge all Australians to vote “yes” so Parliament doesn’t have to apologise in twenty years time for delaying marriage equality.” – Rodney Croome.

Tasmanian equality advocates have praised the state’s Upper House for agreeing unanimously to legislation that will allow historical criminal records for gay and transgender Tasmanians to be expunged.

The Upper House today unanimously agreed to Government expungement legislation, with several members offering heart-felt apologies to those who were convicted.

Tasmania was the last state to decriminalise homosexuality and the only state to criminalise cross-dressing. The Upper House blocked the decriminalisation of homosexuality repeatedly and often angrily in the 1990s.

Tasmanian LGBTI equality advocate, Rodney Croome, said,

“The Upper House’s decision and the apologies that were offered were deeply moving and an important moment of healing for many Tasmanians.”

“Gay and transgender Tasmanians who were convicted under our awful former laws will no longer have to endure the stigma and disadvantage of having a criminal record.”

“I applaud the Upper House, those members who offered apologies, and everyone who worked so hard on this legislation including Vanessa Goodwin, Robin Banks, Ruth Forrest and Matt Groom.”

Mr Croome said today’s decision sends a message relevant to the marriage equality debate.

“Tasmania is a better place for having decriminalised homosexuality twenty years ago despite the dire and ultimately groundless fears of those who opposed that reform.”

“I urge all Australians to vote “yes” so Parliament doesn’t have to apologise in twenty years time for delaying marriage equality.”

Earlier this year Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman, became the first Liberal Premier in Australia to apologise for the past ill-treatment of LGBTI Tasmanians.

The Upper House agreed to a series of amendments to improve the Government’s expungement legislation making it the bill of its kind in Australia so far.

The amendments streamlined procedures related to applications, the treatment of sensitive data and the decision-making process.

There will also be a review clause to ensure the legislation is meeting the need of Tasmanians with gay or transgender criminal records.

The legislation was introduced by former Attorney-General, Vanessa Goodwin, based on community consultation conducted by then Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Robin Banks.

Fruitful negotiations between Robin Banks, Upper House member for Murchison, Ruth Forrest and acting Attorney-General, Matt Groom, saw the legislation improved further.

“The passage of Tasmania’s legislation expunging gay and transgender criminal records is a reminder that Liberal Governments can achieve substantial LGBTI law reform without holding divisive non-binding postal votes.”