NZ Lawmakers Apologise for 100s of Gay Convictions
New Zealand lawmakers have unanimously apologised for the “tremendous hurt and suffering” of hundreds of men who were convicted of homosexuality during the years it was treated as a crime.
Parliament took the rare step of issuing a formal apology to all those unfairly convicted under the antiquated laws. Lawmakers also approved the first stage of a bill that will allow the men to have their criminal records wiped clean, legislation that comes four years after New Zealand legalised same-sex marriage.
The measures were passed with unanimous approval among lawmakers from various political parties.
“Today we are putting on the record that this House deeply regrets the hurt and stigma suffered by the many hundreds of New Zealand men who were turned into criminals by a law that was profoundly wrong, and for that we are sorry,” Justice Minister Amy Adams said.
Adams said it was unimaginable today that consensual sex between adults would be considered criminal.
“It is never too late to apologise,” Adams told lawmakers. “While we cannot ever erase the injustice, this apology is a symbolic but important act that we hope will help address the harm and right this historic wrong.”
The government estimates about 1000 men will be eligible to have their convictions quashed. Most were prosecuted after 1965 and before 1986, when New Zealand decriminalised homosexuality. They were convicted of crimes such as indecency, sodomy and providing a place for homosexual acts.
Original article by Nick Perry, Associated Press, The Washington Post, July 6, 2017.
Photo by Nick Perry.