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Minister stands by decision on historic convictions

Sun 24 Jan 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

A spokesperson for the Minister of Justice says Minister Amy Adams will not be considering a broad-brush wiping of historical homosexual convictions and will stand by her stance despite yet another Australian state expunging records. Daily News has sought answers from the Minister as to why she will not consider over-turning the historic convictions after it was revealed that Tasmania joined four other Australian states in expunging historic convictions late last year. We asked the Minister to clarify why, if the cases in question were documented and went through the courts, she believes: “Its impossible to tell whether they involved consensual acts or not after the event, because of the way the law was written”. A spokesperson for the Minister says, “The Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 removed criminal sanctions for consensual homosexual conduct between adult males, repealing a range of offences and substituting new offences that continued to criminalise sexual activity with males under 16 years of age. “The electronic data the Ministry is able to access only goes back to 1980. It indicates that between 1 July 1980 and 8 August 1986, 879 men were convicted of homosexuality related offences. Nearly 80% (689 men) were convicted of sexual offences involving males under 16, which continue to be criminal offences. There were 109 and 59 convictions respectively for doing or permitting an indecent act with a male over 16 but the electronic data does not indicate whether these acts were consensual.” The spokesperson refers to an interview that the Minister recorded in December in which she states that 80 per cent of historic convictions would still be convictions under today's law. “I don’t think it makes sense to pardon them because most of them were criminal offences anyway and in fact the ones that aren’t, it's hard to know whether it would be or not, because offences didn't talk about consensual or not. So you'd have to go through and do a manual process and actually the law in New Zealand is, you're subject to the law as it is at the time,” she said. The spokesperson however says, “There has not been a search through archived material relating to these convictions to ascertain whether consent was involved, primarily because no affected individual has asked that this take place. It is also not certain that sufficient material relating to the convictions would have been retained in archived material to make such an assessment.” The Minister has said that she is still willing to consider specific instances on a case-by-case basis, but has said a broad-brush wiping of convictions was not something she was considering.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 24th January 2016 - 11:17am

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