CALL ON LABOR, GREENS AND INDEPENDENTS TO ENSURE JUSTICE IS DONE
Equality Tasmania has called on Labor, the Greens and independents to support financial redress for victims of the state’s former laws against homosexuality and cross-dressing after the State Government refused.
Attorney-General, Guy Barnett, has introduced updates to legislation that allows victims of the former laws to have their criminal records erased.
These updates, recommended, by an independent review, include an expansion of the legislation to cover associated crimes such as resisting arrest.
But the Government has stopped short of providing financial redress as recommended by the review.
Equality Tasmania spokesperson, Rodney Croome, welcomed the Government’s proposal to include related offences, but said financial redress must be included.
“When gay and transgender people were charged or convicted under our former laws they faced gaol, fines, court-ordered aversion practices, involuntary outing, loss of jobs, loss of family, loss of relationships and exile from the state.”
“For decades after their conviction, having a criminal record made it much harder for those targeted under our old laws to find employment and housing.”
“The Government was directly responsible for these profound injustices and now it must repair the damage, not only by erasing old records but by providing financial redress.”
“We call on Labor, the Greens and independents to amend the Government’s bill so there is justice for Tasmanians who were victims of our old laws.”
Mr Croome dismissed the Government’s argument that those who successfully erase their record can apply for an ex gratia payment from the Treasurer and that no other state provides compensation.
“Those who have already gone through the trauma of applying to erase their criminal record should not have to go through another application process for a discretionary Government ‘gift’ they may or may not receive.”
“The fact Tasmania was the last state to repeal its former laws, and that those laws were the most draconian in the western world, leaves a legacy that is deeper and more recent than elsewhere and means Tasmania has a moral responsibility to blaze the path forward.”
In 1997 Tasmania became the last state to decriminalise sex between men. Until then, all sex between men, including private, consenting sex between men in relationships, carried a maximum penalty of 21 years in prison. Tasmania was the only state that penalised males wearing female clothing. That law was used to intimidate and persecute transgender women until its repeal in 2000.
Groups that support financial redress include Tasmania’s Community Legal Services, the Tasmanian Council of Social Services and the Tasmanian Women’s Legal Service.
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information contact Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668.