Re­newed calls for gay crimes pay­out

The Press - - Politics - HENRY COOKE

Men con­victed for hav­ing con­sen­sual gay sex be­fore New Zealand changed its law in 1986 should be com­pen­sated for their ru­ined lives, a group of MPs was told yes­ter­day.

Three sep­a­rate sub­mit­ters to the jus­tice and elec­toral select com­mit­tee were mak­ing sub­mis­sions on a bill that will ex­punge the con­vic­tions.

De­spite the law change, the men held onto a sex con­vic­tion which of­ten saw them de­nied jobs and other op­por­tu­ni­ties.

This is the first ‘‘ex­punge­ment scheme’’ in New Zealand. The bill passed its first read­ing with the sup­port of all par­ties be­fore the elec­tion.

The Jus­tice Min­istry be­lieves there are about 1000 men still alive who were con­victed un­der the old law, though fam­i­lies could also ap­ply to have their rel­a­tives’ con­vic­tions ex­punged.

For­mer Jus­tice Min­is­ter Amy Adams specif­i­cally ruled out com­pen­sa­tion when she in­tro­duced the bill ear­lier this year, and new Jus­tice Min­is­ter An­drew Lit­tle said yes­ter­day he didn’t think in­clud­ing it in the leg­is­la­tion would be a good idea.

Young Labour’s Alka Ahi­rao said: ‘‘These laws ru­ined lives and we need to do more than apol­o­gise, we need to give some­thing back to them.’’

Young Labour sug­gested New Zealand look into a model sim­i­lar to Ger­many or Canada, both of which have set aside con­sid­er­able sums for com­pen­sa­tion.

Ger­many’s com­pen­sa­tion came out to around NZ$5200 for all con­victs, with ad­di­tional fund­ing for time spent in pri­son.

Law grad­u­ate Ted Green­smithWest sug­gested com­pen­sa­tion could al­low the men who had so much of their lives taken away to en­joy the twi­light of their lives.

‘‘It would al­low them to use their last few years do­ing things they never able to do,’’ said Green­smith-West.

Vet­eran LGBT ac­tivist Bill Lo­gan also called for com­pen­sa­tion.

‘‘So many peo­ple were forced into un­nec­es­sar­ily small lives. The hurt was enor­mous. The num­ber of lives which were com­pletely wrecked by these laws, which were a re­flec­tion of so­cial at­ti­tudes at the time. Par­lia­ment was a part of that,’’ Lo­gan said.

‘‘We can al­ways find plenty of money to bail out banks when they col­lapse. But we can’t seem to find money for the ac­tual so­cial debts that we have for be­ing evil to peo­ple.’’

PHOTO: STUFF

‘‘These laws ru­ined lives and we need to do more than apol­o­gise, we need to give some­thing back to them,’’ says Young Labour’s Alka Ahi­rao.

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