The state government commenced the process of remedial legislation, which will provide a way for people convicted under unjust laws of the past to have those charges removed from their criminal records.
“Many Tasmanians have continued to suffer from distress and disadvantage as a result of the criminalisation of conduct that is now accepted as lawful,” said Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman.
“It’s hard for us not in that situation to imagine what it would feel like to have a criminal record for something that today is lawful. This bill seeks to rectify that.”
Human Rights Law Centre lawyer Lee Carnie said the acknowledgement of the injustice of Tasmania’s old laws, together with the new scheme and legislation, would have a practical impact on the lives of many people.
“Sex between consenting adults should never have been criminalized,” she said.
“This scheme will help repair the harm caused by these unjust laws and send a clear message to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that they are valued members of the community.”
Tasmania was the last Australian state to carry out the death penalty for sodomy in 1867, and in the hundred subsequent years, had the highest rate of imprisonment for private consenting male sex anywhere in the world.
Until 1997, LGBQI people were charged and convicted of offenses ranging from sodomy and gross indecency to crossdressing.
The human toll of such laws shouldn’t be underestimated, Ms Carnie said.
“Convictions for homosexual offences have restricted employment, volunteering and travel opportunities for decades,” she said.
”More fundamentally, these convictions have been a source of ongoing grief and deep personal shame for the individuals affected. The opportunity to have their criminal records cleared will be welcome.”