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Homosexual convictions to be removed from New Zealand criminal records
Last Updated: 2017-02-09 13:09 | Xinhua
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Men convicted of homosexual offences under New Zealand's now defunct laws banning homosexual acts will be given the chance to clear their criminal records, Justice Minister Amy Adams said Thursday.

"While the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 decriminalized consensual sex between men aged 16 and over, convictions for those offences remain on record and can appear in criminal history checks," Adams said in a statement.

The new scheme would provide a pathway for their convictions to be expunged, meaning people would be treated as if they had never been convicted, and would remove the ongoing stigma and prejudice that could arise from convictions for homosexual offences.

"I acknowledge the pain that these New Zealanders have lived with and hope that this will go some way toward addressing that," said Adams.

People with convictions for specific offences relating to consensual sexual activity between men 16 years and over would be eligible to apply to the Secretary of Justice to have the conviction expunged, an approach consistent with other overseas jurisdictions, such as Australia.

"As there may be instances where the offending involved conduct that is still unlawful today, we can't apply a broad brush approach to wiping convictions. The scheme will involve a case-by-case approach," Adams said.

About 1,000 people were estimated to be eligible to apply under the scheme.

The government intended to introduce legislation to implement the scheme in the coming months and it was expected to begin next year.

The move had wide cross-party support in the New Zealand Parliament with the main opposition parties welcoming it as a measure to rectify an historic wrong.

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