(Blogmensgo, gay blog of April 8, 2018) The New Zealand parliament unanimously passed an amnesty law in third reading on April 3, 2018. According to this, sentences for homosexuality issued before the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1986 are to be deleted from criminal records. In February 2017, the Minister of Justice had already announced this bill and officially apologized to any affected gay men and their families. When presenting the new law to parliament, current Justice Minister Andrew Little reiterated the government’s official apology. In 1993, New Zealand banned discrimination against homosexuals, and the New Zealand parliament legalized homosexual marriage in April 2013.
Minister Andrew Little publicly acknowledged his predecessor Amy Adams’ work in drafting the law, which had come after a public petition. During his speech before the third parliamentary reading, the Minister of Justice suddenly stopped reading his manuscript (from 5:05 in the video above or also available here) and then, with a moving voice, apologized again on his own behalf, on behalf of the government and on behalf of Parliament:
… sorry to these men who carried the stigma and shame of doing nothing other than expressing the love for the person that they did love. And for the families who have shared the shame and embarrassment as well.
Beginning in 2019, all crimes and offences decriminalized in 1986 can be retroactively deleted from criminal records, either at the request of the convicts themselves (approximately 1000 still alive), or by their surviving family members if the convicts have already died in the meantime. The amnesty law applies to a total of five types of convictions, including “anal intercourse, immoral conduct among men and providing a place for homosexual acts”.
For the sentences to be annulled, homosexual contacts must have taken place by mutual consent between men at least 16 years of age, which is in line with the current legal situation.
Minister Little also raised the possibility of compensation payments, but referred to the administrative difficulty of such measures because each individual case may be different. This is why the law as it stands does not provide for such compensation. Once again, he apologized, using the following words:
I would like to apologise again to all the men and members of the rainbow community who have been affected by the prejudice, stigma and other negative effects caused by convictions for historical homosexual offences.
(Andrew Little, Minister of Justice of New Zealand)
Frank-S / MensGo