The New Zealand Parliament [official website] on Thursday formally apologized to the hundreds of men who were criminally convicted under antiquated anti-homosexuality laws. The country’s House of Representatives stated [Twitter account] that it apologizes “to those homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted for consensual adult activity, and recognize[s] the tremendous hurt and suffering those men and their families have gone through, and the continued effects the convictions have had on them.” Lawmakers also unanimously approved the first stage of a bill [materials] that “provides an expungement scheme for convictions for a historical homosexual offense if the conduct constituting the offense, if engaged in when the application for expungement was made, would not constitute an offense under the laws of New Zealand.” Under the bill, approximately 1,000 men will be able to have their convictions quashed. New Zealand decriminalized [AP report] homosexuality in 1986 and legalized same-sex marriage four years ago. The bill provides no entitlement to compensation regardless of any fines or losses incurred from the conviction.
LGBTQ+ rights and anti-homosexuality laws have been a matter of international controversy for decades, and have been receiving increasing attention and scrutiny in the past few years. Earlier this week a Chinese court ordered [JURIST report] a mental hospital to issue a public apology and pay compensation to a 38-year-old man after forcing him to undergo conversion therapy. In June the lower house of the German Parliament voted 393-226 [JURIST report] to legalize same-sex marriage. In April Nigeria prosecutors in Kaduna charged 53 men [JURIST report] for celebrating an LGBTQ wedding in violation of the state’s law against ‘unlawful assembly’ and the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. A day earlier Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups had urged [JURIST report] UN Secretary General António Guterres to investigate alleged abuse against LGBT people in Chechnya. According to the open letter, about 100 gay and bisexual men were detained, tortured, murdered or went missing under the authority of Chechen officials.