21 January 2014

Spent Convictions

Following announcement by the Victorian Government of plans to expunge some criminal convictions for same sex activity the South Australian Government, in me too mode, has announced that it got there first -
South Australian Labor Minister, Ian Hunter, has welcomed announcements from Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, and New South Wales Member of Parliament, Alex Greenwich, that they will introduce legislation to expunge historical gay sex convictions. 
“It’s great to see other States following the lead of the South Australian Government by seeking to remove historical gay sex convictions,” Mr Hunter said. 
The Spent Convictions (Decriminalised Offences) Amendment Act 2013 commenced on 22 December 2013, allowing convictions of historical homosexual offences to be spent for all purposes. 
“While some people with convictions for historical homosexual offences could already apply to a Qualified Magistrate for their conviction to be spent, those sentenced to a term of imprisonment could not,” said Mr Hunter. “Following our reforms, a person can now apply to a Qualified Magistrate for their conviction to be spent regardless of the penalty they received.” 
“The South Australian Government has ended the victimisation of those convicted under historic homophobic laws,” said Mr Hunter. “This continues the strong legacy of social reform by Labor Governments in South Australia.” 
The Dunstan Labor Government made South Australia the first State to decriminalise homosexuality in 1975, but Mr Hunter says that those convicted under the laws continued to suffer from the stigma associated with having a criminal record. 
“I have no doubt that those convicted were prevented from participating fully in society. Such offences being on their records would have continued to impact their employability and their ability to engage with volunteer organisations,” said Mr Hunter. “These reforms will finally bring the suffering of those convicted to an end.”