New Zealand to quash historical gay sex convictions

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image captionFile photo of Justice Minister Amy Adams

New Zealand has said it will move to quash historical convictions for consensual sex between men.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said an application process will be introduced and cases will be judged individually.

In 1986 when the Homosexual Law Reform Act was passed, sex between men above 16 years old was decriminalised.

But convictions for consensual sex between men prior to that still appear in criminal history checks and may have to be disclosed in job applications.

Ms Adams said the government intends to introduce legislation to implement the scheme in the coming months. About 1,000 people could be eligible to apply, according to New Zealand media reports.

'Stigma and prejudice'

A petition was introduced to parliament last July, asking for a process to reverse those convictions brought before 1986 and for an apology from the government.

On Thursday, Ms Adams apologised while addressing reporters.

"Although we can never fully undo the impact on the lives of those affected, this new scheme will provide a pathway for their convictions to be expunged," Ms Adams said.

"It means people will be treated as if they had never been convicted, and removes the ongoing stigma and prejudice that can arise from convictions for homosexual offences."

Only convictions between consenting adult men will be quashed, Ms Adams said, not those where the acts are still illegal today.

Britain announced it would pardon thousands of men convicted of offences that once criminalised homosexuality last year and a 2012 bill allowed those with historical convictions for consensual gay sex to apply to have them disregarded.

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