The vote of the Queensland parliament was held the night before October 11, i.e. the International Coming-out Day. All 464 men who had been convicted for (consensual) homosexual acts before January 19, 1991 may now request such convictions to be expunged from their criminal records.
Homosexuality was considered a criminal offense in Australia until 1991. The historical homosexual convictions expungement act passed on October 10, 2017 was the result of a bill proposed in May 2017 by Yvette D’Ath, the justice minister of Queensland.
The minister believes that the new law comes as a reparation element even though the men involved will never completely forget the shame, stigmatization, professional discrimination etc. that they had experienced and suffered from.
In addition, she stresses the symbolic value of such a law, in particular for homosexual youths.
We still know there are young teenagers in school who are struggling with their sexuality. This is all for them.
The ministry of justice will now evaluate each request to expunge such criminal offenses from a person’s register. Surviving family members may issue such requests in the name of their deceased loved ones.
Four other Australian states have similar laws in place already: South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra). A fifth state, Tasmania, is preparing such a law right now.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Australia’s prime minister, has officially apologized to the men in question in the name of the state of Queensland.
The Prime Minister believes that clearing criminal records of such convictions is a step into the right direction but she stresses that only legalizing gay marriage will bring equal rights for gay and lesbian couples.
The parliamentarian vote of Queensland will come into effect even before the results of the Yes-Now Referendum in Australia will be known. All polls, however, forecast a very clear majority for the supporters of same-sex marriage.