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Question: Historical Homosexual Convictions

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Attorney-General on the topic of removing historical homosexual convictions.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Despite South Australia being the first jurisdiction in this country to decriminalise homosexual acts, we were one of the laggers when it came to removing historical homosexual convictions. Happily, we have amended that law and now have a process, a special process for those applying to have offences spent for conduct that is no longer a crime, such as homosexual activity and the range of offences that went around that, because it should never have been a crime.

In terms of those who can apply, if somebody was convicted and they have passed away or have a mental incapacity, someone else can currently apply on their behalf. They can be a spouse or domestic partner; an adult sibling or child; a guardian, if they are incapacitated; the executor or administrator of their estate, if they are deceased; or any other person the magistrate considers appropriate.

I have been approached by a constituent who has a friend who has now passed, who still has the convictions of homosexuality against his name. That friend has been unable to get standing to have that conviction spent, so my question to the Attorney-General is: will he make provisions or ensure that those convicted of historic homosexual acts who are now deceased can have their friends and loved ones make an application to have those convictions in their name spent?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I thank the honourable member for her question. It is certainly something that I am more than happy to look into, and I might get my office to talk to the honourable member's office to find out the exact circumstances of the situation the honourable member is talking about. Spent convictions are an important part of our justice system in South Australia, and particularly having provisions for convictions to be spent that are by today's standards—and what ought to have always been—never a criminal offence. I have asked about this a number of times, and we have looked at spent convictions. It is something that the parliament is considering where someone has been found not guilty by reason of mental incapacity, but not being able to have those being suspended. That is something that we are looking to address at the moment. In terms of who has standing to have a conviction spent, it is important that there is a process that can look at the elements of the offence because what can appear to be a conviction for something that ought to have never been a conviction could include elements of an act without consent, so I am more than happy to have a look at the situation when it comes to standing and who can make sure those convictions are spent.

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