Members of New Zealand’s Parliament have apologized to approximately 200 men convicted of homosexual related acts that are no longer considered a crime. Legislation that will expunge their convictions is now being considered by Parliament.
Sixteen is the age of consent in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 legalized consensual sexual relations between males aged 16 and over. The 1986 law repealed the provisions of the Crimes Act 1961 under which sodomy, indecent homosexual acts, and providing a place for homosexual acts were illegal for all males. Under the 1986 law homosexual acts between someone 16 and over and someone younger than 16 remained a crime — which it continues to be.
Consensual sex between women has never been illegal in New Zealand.
Between 1961 and 1986 an estimated 200 men were solely convicted of crimes involving a consensual homosexual act by males 16 and over. During those 25 years an estimated 800 men were convicted of committing a homosexual crime involving minors or in conjunction with committing other criminal acts.
New Zealand’s Justice Minister Amy Adams announced on February 9, 2017 that legislation had been crafted that would enable some men convicted of a homosexual crime to have their conviction expunged. She also said they would not receive compensation because their convictions weren’t wrongful: they had been correctly convicted under the then prevailing law. Minister Adams apologized to those men:
“There is no doubt that homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted and branded as criminals for consensual activity suffered tremendous hurt and stigma … We are sorry for what those men and their families have gone through.”
The Criminal Records “Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences” Bill was filed in New Zealand’s Parliament on June 28, 2017. The bill provides for expunging the convictions of approximately 200 men who from 1961 to 1986 were solely convicted of homosexual activities involving consenting males 16 and over, that would not be considered a crime under current law. A person will have to submit an application to have their conviction reviewed by the Ministry of Justice. No hearing will be held. A relative or other interested person can request permission to represent a deceased person and submit an application on their behalf for a posthumous expungement. No compensation will be paid as a result of an expungement, and no fines paid will be reimbursed.
The purpose of the expungement is to clear the stain of the conviction from the person’s name, and eliminate adverse consequences that may result from having the criminal conviction on their record.
On July 6, 2017 the New Zealand Parliament formally apologized “to those homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted for consensual adult activity, and recognize[s] the tremendous hurt and suffering those men and their families have gone through, and the continued effects the convictions have had on them.”
The expungement bill has widespread support and is expected to be enacted into law by the fall of 2017.
Click here to read New Zealand’s Criminal Records “Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences” Bill.
New Zealand is joining a growing list of countries and states that have enacted or are in the process of enacting legislation that provides for the expungement of historical convictions for homosexual acts that are no longer considered criminal:
And, five Australian states.
- South Australia in 2013.
- New South Wales in 2014.
- Victoria in 2015.
- Australian Capital Territory in 2015.
- Tasmania in 2017.