Human Rights Commission joins calls for gay sex convictions to be quashed

Human Rights Commission is joining calls for the Government to quash convictions for gay sex before the Homosexual Law Reform Act was introduced in 1986.
Human Rights Commission is joining calls for the Government to quash convictions for gay sex before the Homosexual Law Reform Act was introduced in 1986.

The Human Rights Commission is joining those calling for the Government to quash convictions for gay sex before the Homosexual Law Reform Act was introduced in 1986.

The act will celebrate its 30th birthday on Saturday and in recognising the achievements it made, Commissioner Richard Tankersley said it would be supportive of the Government in ensuring those convicted for activity legalised by the act, have their human rights restored.

Tankersley said 30 years on from the passing of the act, the time is right for the Government to consider action.

"The passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act was a landmark for human rights and justice in New Zealand.

"With the rest of the Human Rights Commission, I am thrilled to be celebrating this important milestone along with the LGBTIQ communities of NZ and their friends and supporters.

"Passing the Act required immense courage from the communities, MPs and people from the wider community who stuck their necks out for what was right - it's important that we acknowledge those heroes."

In celebration of that occasion, the Commission has said it would welcome the Government issuing an apology to those people who were convicted for activity that would be lawful today.

"We would encourage the Government to start a restitution process, such as a ministerial inquiry, that would see all pre-Act conviction files reviewed to identify those who received a conviction for what would now be lawful under the Act," Mr Tankersley says.

"This would enable the Government to take proactive steps to pardon or void the conviction of those people and avoid a reactive case-by-case decision-making process, which would likely be a drawn-out, costly and difficult process for these people and their families."

He called the act a major step forward but said there was still more to be done.

"There are still outstanding human rights issues for LGBTIQ communities, including identity documentation, access to healthcare and safe housing in custody for trans people, non-consensual genital normalisation for intersex children, and inclusive gender-neutral toilets and changing facilities for everyone.

"We look forward to a New Zealand where everyone is able to participate equally and fully in society without being hampered by fear, prejudice or lack of understanding," Mr Tankersley said.

- NZ Herald

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