Stigma gone

MEN convicted of same-sex relations under antiquated laws can now have their criminal records completely expunged.

On Tuesday attorney general John Quigley announced the legislation had passed through both houses of parliament. Mr Quigley said: “We recognised that many members of our community continue to carry the stigma of a criminal record for consensual acts that are no longer considered a crime in WA.

“The government has also offered an apology to the LGBTIQ community for the discrimination, hurt and trauma they have suffered as a result of unjust convictions.

“People convicted under these laws will no longer need to have a criminal record hanging over their head for offences that are not illegal today.”

It comes two years after Maylands MP Lisa Baker started a campaign imploring parliament to set things right for the hundreds of men alive today who were targeted or entrapped in police raids and convicted over consensual relations.

From early on, the intention was to make the expungement voluntary: Some of the men might prefer to not dig up old wounds. Others might see their conviction as a badge of honour. But those who want their conviction gone will be able to apply to the department of justice to have it completely expunged. A conviction won’t be overturned if the charge is for something that is still illegal.

Ms Baker said she was proud to have worked on getting the legislation passed.

by DAVID BELL

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