The Government will introduce a new scheme to address historical convictions for homosexual offences, Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced.
âWhile the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 decriminalised consensual sex between men aged 16 and over, convictions for those offences remain on record and can appear in criminal history checks,â Ms Adams says.
âAlthough we can never fully undo the impact on the lives of those affected, this new scheme will provide a pathway for their convictions to be expunged. It means people will be treated as if they had never been convicted, and removes the ongoing stigma and prejudice that can arise from convictions for homosexual offences.
âI acknowledge the pain that these New Zealanders have lived with and hope that this will go some way toward addressing that.â
People with convictions for specific offences relating to consensual sexual activity between men 16 years and over will be eligible to apply to the Secretary of Justice to have the conviction expunged, an approach consistent with other overseas jurisdictions, such as Australia. If a personâs application is approved, government records will be amended so the conviction does not appear in criminal history checks and they will be entitled to declare they have no such conviction.
The application process will be free for applicants. Decisions will be made by the Secretary of Justice, without the need for formal court hearings or for applicants to appear in person.
âAs there may be instances where the offending involved conduct that is still unlawful today, we canât apply a broad brush approach to wiping convictions. The scheme will involve a case-by-case approach,â Ms Adams says.
Ms Adams says the Government intends to introduce legislation to implement the scheme in the coming months.
Who is eligible to apply under the scheme?
People will be eligible to apply if they were convicted of specific offences under the
Crimes Act 1961 relating to sexual activity between males 16 years and over that
were decriminalised by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986. The offences are: section 141 (indecency between males), section 142 (sodomy), section 146 (keeping place of resort for homosexual acts).
The threshold for granting an application would be satisfaction on the balance of
probabilities that the conduct in question would no longer constitute a criminal
offence â this means the sexual activity must have been consensual and involved
adults 16 years or over
When will the scheme be introduced?
It is anticipated that the scheme will begin in 2018 - as soon as the necessary law
changes are in place.
The Government intends to introduce a Bill to Parliament before the House rises for
Members of the public will have an opportunity to make submissions on how the
scheme should work when the Bill is before a select committee.
What does âexpungementâ mean?An eligible applicantâs records will be âexpungedâ. This means their criminal record would be amended to ensure the conviction does not appear on a criminal history check for any purpose in New Zealand and they will be entitled to declare they have no such conviction.
Can someone whose conviction is quashed claim compensation?
No, this is ruled out by the Government's enabling bill.