Men who were previously convicted of illegal homosexual offences will be able to remove the offences from their public record and will receive an apology from the New Zealand government. The Parliament of New Zealand has unanimously passed a law that will allow for the expungement. While these men will receive an apology, no compensation will be given out at this point in time.
The application process to remove the convictions can be done by the men themselves, or in circumstances where the man has passed away, family members or representatives can also file the application.
During the course of this legislation, several MPs have made personal speeches regarding the matter at hand. Grant Robertson who is the Finance Minister and also gay made a touching speech that stated that the illegality of homosexuality and arrests of these men ruined lives and destroyed their potential. The views of parliament caused the deaths of hundreds of men and the pain and shame they had to bear was due to society perceiving them as criminals.
He also stated that those that lived through the hate deserve an apology from the countless years of hate and discrimination. Other countries such as some Australian states, Wales and England have taken similar movements to expunge previous illegal homosexual convictions.
The criminal records bill which is known as the; “Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences” was introduced last year by Amy Adams who is the former Justice Minister. The New Zealand Parliament also unanimously supported the apology from the house.
The apology says that the house apologises to those homosexual New Zealanders who were previous convicted for adult activity that was consensual. They also recognise the hurt and suffering that those men and their families have gone through.
How the process will work relies upon the Secretary of Justice to go through each individual application and see whether if the conduct of those involved would result in a similar offence in today’s age. The resulting effect of the process would be as though the conviction had not existed at all. So those who were previously convicted won’t have to disclose it for any reason such as employment prospects.
On the other hand you still may have to declare it in other countries. It comes down to the question asked such as if you have been arrested before, which you would have to answer yes.
While New Zealand has been an advocate for change and equality, when will we see the rest of the world follow suit? There are still over 70 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal where in 8 of those countries it is punishable by death. This forward movement for equality throughout the world will surely prevail in the future.