Petition to wipe gay sex convictions

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There is an increasing amount of support for historical convictions for gay sex between consenting adults to be removed from people’s police records.

Sex between men was illegal until 1986, punishable by up to seven years in prison, and many in the gay community say that stigma still hangs over them.

Wellington man Wiremu Demchick has started a petition to have the convictions deleted, with the Justice Minister indicating she’s at least willing to listen.

Mr Demchick says wiping records clean will allow “for people still living with the public disgrace brought by conviction to live the last years of their life in a better state than before”.

Many on Facebook say it’s a good idea, and overdue.

“I think it’s ridiculous it was a crime in the first place, and holding it against someone even though it’s now legal is ridiculous,” Sean Bryan Thomas Rofe posted.

House Davidson commented: “I think wiping the records of people convicted due to an archaic and draconian law in a way that trampled on what I think is a basic human right is for the betterment of the country.”

The Clean Slate Act means those convicted before 1986 don’t need to declare it. But campaigners like gay community leader Malcolm Kennedy Vaughan, who has been handing out the petition in his bar, say that’s not the same as having the convictions annulled.

“I don’t think it’s the same at all. Isn’t that like sweeping it under the carpet, pretending it never happened?” he says.

Justice Minister Amy Adams […] said although she’s happy to listen to submissions on the subject, there would be a number of practical difficulties in wiping the historic convictions.

Opponents of the petition appear to be in a minority on Facebook.

“Homosexuality IS a crime against nature!” Aidan Work posted.

Mr Demchick is hoping for at least 3000 signatures before he presents his petition to Parliament in March.

I’m sure he’ll get them too.   Apart from the kind of people that see homosexuality as a birth defect, it seems entirely sensible to expunge this historical convictions when these days the same people can have sex, get married, adopt and otherwise live a non-criminal life.

 

– One News

 


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  • John1234

    Good grief – you’d think that wiping past convictions would have been part of the legislation change, wouldn’t you?

  • KGB

    Though I 100% agree that homosexuality convictions should be wiped, there has to be a line drawn. As John1234 states, it should have been attached to the new legislation.
    If we legalised marijuana tomorrow, should we wipe all possession convictions?

    • NotGandalf

      I believe the question will become one of human rights, persecution versus prosecution. What was perceived as an immoral act at the time is now more widely accepted as a free choice – a natural consequence of the human desire to be accepted, to belong to someone. and to be loved by someone without government, family or church interference. Speeding and drug taking, no matter what you believe you are entitled to, are terrible examples to apply the same logic to because they both represent recklessness and more destructive behaviors that place additional burdens on society. I don’t think Homosexuality ever placed any of those burdens on society other than a threat to the so called establishment of church and state as the moral guardians of the people.
      To clarify: by ‘burdens’ I mean potential harm to self and others resulting in requirement for medical, financial or societal support or the removal of the individual from society for the protection of society as a quantitative, not qualitative measure.

  • Graeme Edgeler

    There’s a really good reason why this hasn’t been done yet, and why it is difficult to do it.

    The law made homosexual acts illegal, and provided that consent was not a defence. The way the law was written, the same charge was used was used whether the offending was consensual or forced. If you wipe all convictions for homosexual acts, you aren’t just wiping convictions for consensual homosexual acts, you are also wiping convictions for homosexual rape.

    • peterwn

      There are two types of conviction – sodomy and ‘grossly obscene’ (or whatever it was called) behaviour. Consensual sodomy convictions would have been rare (sodomy between married couples in the bedroom was also a crime but there would have been few if any convictions for this in the decades preceding homosexual law reform), so perhaps sodomy convictions should not be ‘wiped’ unless a particular convicted person (or descendents) starts an enquiry. Most homosexual convictions would have been the ‘grossly obscene’ behaviour type (the scheme of this 19th century legislation imported from UK made it very easy to secure convictions for manifestations of homosexual behaviour), and the most expedient course would be to ‘wipe’ them all, even it it means accepting that ones not relating to homosexuality are wiped too. Convictions recorded on LES (‘Wanganui’ computer) could then be wiped, and legislation could ‘void’ any paper record convictions held in archives.

  • Greg M

    I support convictions being removed. It probably needs to be done as an amendment to the original legislation to avoid the can of worms that KGB mentions.

  • DavidW

    But but but … as a general principle, surely what was against the law at a point in time was exactly that – against the law. No amount of hand wringing soft thinking can change that. If the law was to change to allow 120KPH on the Northern motorway, should we refund the fines and wipe the demerit points of those who got tickets before the change? NO. When we changed the law on Capital Punishment, did we bring back to life .. ahem …. not practicable but you know where this is going don’t you?

    A simpler example would be if we legalised marijuana use. You still might have a conviction and the authorities in Canada would be well within their rights to refuse you entry for having a drug conviction. Introducing a law against rape within marriage did not suddenly permit a bunch of victims of historical rapes the right to lay complaints etc etc etc.

    That was the law, they broke it at the time and whether you agree with the law or not the facts Dr Watson is de facts.

    • Peter Maguire

      Totally Agree

    • Luis Cannon

      Rewriting history is usually reserved to dictatorships. A very dangerous path to go down.

      • Cadwallader

        This is not the case. Nobody is alleging the “offence” didn’t take place, all that is happening is acknowledging that subsequent events and procceses have occured which make the original treatment of those charged unconscionable.

        • John1234

          Agreed. If the law was an ass then there’s every reason to quash the convictions.

  • ozbob68

    I agree it is symbolically important to some people, but as long as no-one is being disadvantaged by having these convictions, I can see much more pressing issues to be addressed.

    • James

      There would be some disadvantages though wouldn’t there – entering the USA, for example. requires a visa if you have a criminal conviction where the maximum prison time was over a year. Other countries have similar requirements and “clean state” laws generally don’t apply.

      • Whitey

        I think there also some jobs where the clean slate law doesn’t apply.

      • ex-JAFA

        True, but I’d hope they’d at least look at it in context. A flat “any conviction, no entry, I don’t want to hear the details” would indeed disadvantage them. But if they were inclined to ask for more information, I’d hope the response would be along the lines of “just as well we’ve all moved on from that nonsense – welcome to our country”.

        • James

          They will still let you in as they do look at context; the problem is that you just can’t turn up with an ESTA and use the visa waiver program – you have to spend money and time applying for a visa. Then go through the hassle of getting a new visa whenever yours expires / passport expires.

          Is the hassle worth deleting the convictions? Probably not. But then the convictions should be deleted anyway as the law that they were convicted under was immoral and wrong.

  • Cadwallader

    If it was consensual, why was it a crime at all? The opposite is the extreme response to this under Sharia.

    • ex-JAFA

      Lawmakers at the time thought it was icky, and anything icky should be illegal. We still have that with most parties wanting to ban things that they personally disagree with, although it’s not as bad as it was. Fortunately, we have one party which takes the position that if something isn’t hurting anyone else or depriving them of their property, it should be (generally speaking) legal.

  • Michael

    …so probably the Minister has got it right: “Justice Minister Amy Adams […] said although she’s happy to listen to submissions on the subject, there would be a number of practical difficulties in wiping the historic convictions.” I applaud the sentiment but it does need work to avoid the fishhooks.

  • jay

    This is a no-brainer. Expunge their convictions and let’s all move on.

    • Phoenician

      I was prosecuted for being “on licenced premises” when I was 20 (Auckland University Capping pub crawl)…. so will they wipe MY conviction? And give me my $ 3.00 fine back?

      • No, you are probably a white male heterosexual, so you do not exist as a victim and thus do not need consideration. Move on.

        • Phoenician

          I confess; I never felt victimized (I did plead guilty). $ 3.00 was
          worth it for a day in court. Although I always declared my sole conviction, it never cost me a job.

  • Grizz30

    So long as it was consensual, did not involve minors or exposed a power imbalance such as teacher/ student relationship.

  • Shane M

    If “homosexuality is a crime against nature”, let nature take the stand and present it’s case.
    It bemuses me that this even needs to be discussed.

  • timemagazine

    These moral glitches of decadence and decay are always temporary. History has proven it time and time again. It is only a matter of time.

  • Of course it should be should be wiped. Takes 10 minutes of parliaments time (if its worded correctly).

  • Nz front

    It’s a mental disorder. You don’t see other animals that are gay.

    • Mikex

      According to recent research only about 500 species, birds, mammals, lizards and the list goes on.

    • zotaccore

      That’s a bit Victorian! Go watch some NatGeo wildlife channels, you’ll discover that in fact, many animals of the same sex play sexually with each other.

    • damm good thrashing

      You are so very wrong. There is ample evidence of homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom.

  • Wallace Westland

    In that case they can throw in an amendment and wipe my underage drinking conviction since I was 19 at the time.
    It’s not a crime now then based on the above premise I should also be allowed to have it removed. Right?
    Snort.

  • Tom

    It was illegal and they broke the law on the day. Not rocket science.

  • Cadae

    There is a greater justice than that obtained through simplistic mechanical application of law and its records. Permanently blackening a person’s reputation because of an unjust old law is a further and inexcusable continuance of the original injustice – it is an on-going punishment that should not have been imposed in the first place.

    If a nasty, immoral government creates laws, its victims should not continue to be punished after that immoral government is overthrown or slowly dies off. There are plenty of examples in history where the law is immoral and peoples’ records are gladly wiped later- events of the 1940’s are a clear illustration of that. For a recent example of such clearance see http://jurist.org/paperchase/2009/09/germany-passes-law-to-exonerate-nazi.php

  • I_See_Crazy_People

    And all those who used prostitutes when that was illegal?
    How about all those who paid tax when the rates were higher? Do we get that back?
    How about those done for speeding when the speeding limits were lower?
    Can’t be unfair to all the rest…

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