About Time! Convictions for Gay Sex to be Removed


Gay sex was historically a crime – one which saw hundreds of Australians receive criminal records which could affect their careers and travel plans, not to mention their reputation in the community.

Now of course, there is no criminal law in Australia which prohibits consensual gay sex – but those who were convicted before such laws were repealed may still have the offence on their criminal records.

In NSW, laws to expunge consensual homosexual sex have been in place since 2014, 30 years after the offence was abolished.

The QLD Proposal

Despite homosexual sex being legal in Queensland for 25 years, those who engaged in the act before 1990 and received a criminal conviction still live with the stigma of a criminal record.

But this could all change if a proposal by the QLD government to remove such records comes into law.

Alan Raabe (above) is excited about the proposed change. Mr Raabe told the ABC that his conviction effectively blocked him from fulfilling his dream of becoming a teacher, and from even trying to travel to America which would require declaration of a criminal record. He was one of 464 men convicted under the outdated laws.

Now aged 61, Raabe welcomes the proposal, saying:

“You become isolated in your shame and you want to hide this and one of the really interesting things I’ve discovered is I’m only one of hundreds, what happened to me there’s hundreds and hundreds of people out there who his has affected.”

Many others feel that the laws can’t come too soon – Yvette D’Ath, QLD Attorney-General, and Brisbane Pride Festival president Peter Black, believe that laws criminalising gay sex should never have been passed in the first place, and that the Queensland politician should most fast on the new proposal.

Other States

Queensland is one of the last parts of Australia to introduce legislation removing criminal convictions for gay sex – South Australia, NSW and Victoria were the first to do so in 2014.

The ACT followed last year, but there are currently no such provisions in WA or NT. Tasmania – the last area to abolish the offence of homosexual sex in 1997 – is also considering similar legislation, in addition to a formal apology for past laws. If this eventuates, Tasmania will be the first and only state to offer apologies for past homosexual sex offences.

Getting Rid of a Conviction for Gay Sex in NSW

As stated, NSW introduced legislation in 2014 allowing for the extinguishment of convictions for homosexual sex offences.

Under 19B of the Criminal Records Act 1990, a person can write to the Secretary asking for the conviction to be extinguished.

The application must include:

  • Your name, address and birth date;
  • Your address at the time of the conviction;
  • The time, when and where the conviction was made (if known);
  • Any other information that the Secretary may require

For deceased persons, the application can be made by their lawyer, partner, parent, child or person with whom they were in a close personal relationship at the time of their death.

An ‘eligible homosexual offence’ is one where the other person consented to the sex and was above the age of 16 – or 18 if the other person was under the special care of the applicant, for example their school teacher, guardian or health professional.


previous post: Man Faces Court for Allegedly Spreading HIV

next post: Police Body Cameras in NSW: What Does the Law Say?

Author Image

About Sydney Criminal Lawyers

Sydney Criminal Lawyers is Sydney's Leading Criminal Defence firm, Delivering Outstanding Results in all Criminal and Driving cases. Going to Court? Call (02) 9261 8881 for a Free Consultation.
  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>