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New Zealand clears law to erase gay sex convictions

Wellington, April 4: New Zealand’s Parliament has passed a legislation to allow people who were previously convicted of homosexual offences to have their crimil records wiped. Legislation ecting the change was cleared on Tuesday night unimously, Radio New Zealand reported on Wednesday. Homosexuality was decrimilized in New Zealand in 1986, but people who were convicted before that time still had the offence listed on their official records.

The bill was introduced under the former tiol-led government by the then Justice Minister, Amy Adams, who apologized for the hurt and the distress those men had suffered. Current Justice Minister Andrew Little said the legislation “sends a clear sigl that discrimition against gay people is no longer acceptable, and we are committed to putting right wrongs from the past”. “I would like to apologize again to all the men and members of the rainbow community who have been affected by the prejudice, stigma and other negative effects caused by convictions for historical homosexual offences,” Little said. About 1,000 people will be eligible to have their records cleared when the scheme kicks in next year, the BBC reported. The government said the convictions related to three offences that were decrimilized in 1986 — sodomy, indecency between males and keeping a place of resort for homosexual acts. Those with convictions or families of the convicted person who passed away, will be able to apply to the Secretary for Justice to have their convictions wiped. To qualify, the sex that led to the conviction must have been consensual and between people aged 16 years or older, the report said. A petition to quash historical convictions for homosexual offences was first introduced in Parliament in 2017. New Zealand passed laws banning discrimition against gays in 1993 and became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage 20 years later. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita