WELLINGTON, June 28 (Xinhua) -- A bill to allow historical convictions for homosexual offences to be removed will help put right a wrong from the past, New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams said on Wednesday.
The Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill was introduced to Parliament on Wednesday.
"The tremendous hurt and stigma suffered by those who were affected can never be fully undone, but I hope that this Bill will go some way toward addressing that," Adams said in a statement.
"This bill introduces the first ever expungement scheme in New Zealand," Adams said, adding that it will allow men convicted of specific homosexual offences decriminalized by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 to apply to have the convictions wiped from their criminal record.
Allowing historical convictions for homosexual offences to remain on a person's criminal record perpetuates the stigma which such convictions carry, she said, adding that a person can be further disadvantaged if they are required to disclose their conviction or it appears on a criminal history check.
The minister said that the scheme requires case-by-case assessments of the relevant facts to determine whether the conduct a person was charged with is still unlawful today, adding that the decision will be made by the Secretary for Justice, without the need for a court hearing or for applicants to appear in person.
"If a person's conviction is expunged, the conviction will not appear on a criminal history check for any purpose and they will be entitled to declare they had no such conviction when required to under New Zealand law," she said.