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Today, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman apologized to people convicted of homosexuality and cross-dressing under old anti-LGBTQ laws.
Tasmania’s parliament is also considering letting people convicted under anti-queer laws remove the charges from their criminal records, the Human Rights Law Centre reports.
Hodgman, quoted in ABC News, said:
It is our view that the broader Tasmanian community would believe that people should never have been charged or convicted in the first place, even if it was thought at the time it was the right thing to do, it was not.
Many Tasmanians have continued to suffer from distress and disadvantage as a result of the criminalization of conduct that is now accepted as lawful.
Despite the repeal of homosexual offences, some continue to have criminal records that affect various aspects of their lives such as work, volunteering or travelling.
It’s hard for those of us not in that situation to imagine what it would feel like to have a criminal record for something that today that is accepted as lawful.
Tasmania has a legacy of homophobia that lasted longer than most other Western nations. The state was even dubbed “Bigots’ Island” for its intense prejudice against queer people.
Tasmania had anti-LGBTQ laws on the books up until the 1990s. Punishments for homosexual activity were harsh, carrying long prison sentences. The battle for decriminalization was arduous. The Independent writes:
The island state off mainland Australia was one of the last places in the Western world to decriminalize homosexuality. Mass rallies in the 1990s against repeal of the sodomy laws resounded to chants of “Kill them, kill them”, and some politicians called for gay men to be whipped.
But things have changed. Tasmania’s population is much more LGBTQ-friendly. The Upper House passed a motion in support of same-sex marriage in 2016. And same-sex couples can adopt children.
Progress in Other Countries
Other countries have recently passed similar measures to clear people persecuted under anti-LGBTQ laws. Germany has a bill to rehabilitate the victims of an old anti-homosexuality law. And Great Britain recently pardoned tens of thousands of men prosecuted for their sexual orientations.
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