Expunging gay convictions

MEN convicted for cross-dressing, falsely pleaded guilty to rape, or who were unfairly targeted for having sex in public places may be eligible to have their criminal records wiped under models being considered for expunging gay crimes.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Tasmania in 1990 while it remained a crime for men to wear women's clothes between sunset and sunrise until 1999.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Group spokesman Rodney Croome said transgender people - people who identified as female - and transvestites were targeted by the cross-dressing law.

Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Robin Banks, who is preparing a discussion paper on possible legislative models, is also considering whether men arrested for having sex in a public place, which is still a crime, should be cleared if it can be proved they were unfairly targeted for having sex with another man.

Ms Banks is hoping to compare arrest rates for sex in public places known to be frequented predominantly by men and other sex-related crimes, such as prostitution.

Mr Croome welcomed Ms Banks's decision to explore the complex issue, but said the focus should be on men convicted for having private, consenting, adult relationships.

``There should not be expungement of convictions for sex in a public place because that remains a crime,'' he said.

He said there was some evidence that in some cases police had made sexual advances towards a man and then arrested him if he responded.

``If this kind of entrapment led to convictions, they're something we should consider expunging,'' he said.

Mr Croome said there were also cases of men who were involved in a consensual relationship where one had falsely pleaded guilty to rape to protect the other man. Ms Banks said the discussion paper would look at how men with rape convictions recorded in these circumstances could also be included under any potential Tasmanian expungement legislation.

She said adequate resources would need to be allocated to allow their case to be investigated.

The discussion paper will also consider whether family members should be able to apply for the espungement of records of dead relatives.

Rodney Croome

Rodney Croome


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