New LGBTI+ group hones in on apology

RAINBOW RIGHTS WA is petitioning premier Colin Barnett to support legislation quashing historical convictions under old anti-gay laws.

The legislation making homosexual intercourse illegal wasn’t repealed until 1989, and at the height of its enforcement in the 60s and 70s hundreds of men were convicted. A conviction, even if spent, still comes up in job interviews for sensitive security positions, the police, or working at the Perth Mint. It also makes travel to the USA difficult.

In June, Maylands MP Lisa Baker used her budget reply speech to argue for legislation expunging the convictions and an apology to the men (“Push to quash gay convictions,” Voice, July 2, 2016).

Now LGBTI+ advocacy group Rainbow Rights WA is collecting a petition to present to the premier saying “WA is the only state that has not quashed these convictions… this can be fixed with the help of public support and political goodwill”.

•Rainbow Rights WA members Katrina Montaut, Jon Mann and Neil Buckley are petitioning the premier to expunge historical anti-gay convictions. Photo by David Bell

•Rainbow Rights WA members Katrina Montaut, Jon Mann and Neil Buckley are petitioning the premier to expunge historical anti-gay convictions. Photo by David Bell

“RRWA believes it is unjust to leave these charges and convictions in place, as they stand as a reminder of a shameful part of WA’s history where people were targeted by the law for simply expressing who they were and who they loved. Furthermore, it is unjust and unfair that people can potentially have these archaic convictions held against them decades after these discriminatory laws were removed.”

RRWA is a new group formed out of a Pride WA and Equal Opportunity Commission human rights forum in 2015. While Pride continues to handle the cultural side of things like the march, fair day and artistic events, RRWA’s vice chair Jon Mann says “our main goals are providing advocacy and an avenue to deal with the kind of issues we feel, in the community, aren’t being dealt with by anyone. We will be pushing the human rights agenda more than anything else.”

Their petition is up now on the their Facebook page at Rainbow Rights WA.

by DAVID BELL

947 Australian Higher Education 10x7

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