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Gay law repeal faces challenge

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Members of Tasmania’s Upper House are already raising concerns about a move to clear gay men of historic convictions.

Legislation will be tabled early next year to expunge convictions for some historic homosexual laws that no longer exist.

Tasmania was the last state in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality and is one of the last to clear the records of men convicted of former crimes.

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The bill will breeze through the lower house with tri-partisan support but faces a tougher challenge when it reaches the Legislative Council.

Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman is unsure if the legislation will be amended. Photo: AAP

Rumney MLC Tony Mulder said he was worried about the impact of potentially clearing a conviction of sexual intercourse against the order of nature.

“I’m all for wiping the convictions where they were consenting adults, but this charge was also used for male rape and for paedophiles to prey on young boys,” he said.

“Those charges should never be wiped, they should be tattooed on their foreheads.”

The independent MLC said he was concerned about who may be eligible to apply to have their record expunged.

“There’s an assumption built into the current statement that only consenting adults were ever charged with this particular crime,” he said.

“I’m deeply concerned that we are going to be expunging the convictions of some pretty dangerous and nasty people.”

The legislation will not be tabled until next year, but Mr Mulder is already considering amendments.

“I will amend it, or I will try to amend it if it’s too broad,” he said.

Right thing to do: Premier

Applications to have a record cleared are assessed by the Justice Department.

The Premier Will Hodgman said he was not pre-empting whether the legislation would be amended by the Legislative Council.

“I won’t presume to say what they will or won’t do,” he said.

But he said it was a very important change that needed to happen.

“It’s taken some time to work through some very complex arrangements, but at the heart of what we are doing are those people that have been unfairly treated by laws that were wrong,” he said.

“We think it’s the right thing to do, it sends an appropriate message to the community.”

The legislation has support from the Liberals, Labor and the Greens.

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