Calls to expunge gay sex convictions

A former human rights lawyer says Australia should erase criminal convictions for past acts of consensual homosexual sex from the record books.

In 1997 Tasmania became the last state to decriminalise sodomy – 22 years after the lead was set by South Australia.

Yet while homosexual sex is no longer a crime, rights activists say “thousands” of criminal convictions are still standing.

Dr Paula Gerber, a former lawyer and an expert in human rights law from Monash University, says states and territories must act to expunge those convictions.

“This sort of conduct should never have been criminalised. All the records, all the convictions, should just be expunged,” she said.

“The legacy of those laws still haunts many men as they continue to carry the stigma of a criminal conviction.”

Jamie Gardiner, a rights activist and the vice-president of Liberty Victoria, says it is a matter of righting a historical wrong.

“The state has a chance to say ‘You were mistreated. We can’t heal the wounds, but at least can admit publicly that it was wrong,'” he said.

He says many men were jailed as a result of their convictions, and now might not be able apply for jobs or volunteer positions that require a police check.

”If you are told you have to sign a statement that says you have never been convicted of anything on pain of perjury what do you do?” he said.

Dr Gerber says in many cases, the criminal records cause more than just practical problems.

“There are mental health issues like depression. There is a negative impact on self-esteem because you have a criminal record for simply making love to the person you chose to,” she said.

Righting wrongs

Mr Gardiner says the bulk of the convictions occurred before the late 1970s, when police attitudes towards homosexuality began to soften.

He says it is difficult to give an accurate figure on the number of convictions but estimates it to be in the “thousands”.

”These laws ruin many people lives and cast a shadow over everyone else’s.

”For those who lived through that era it still does”.

Jamie Gardiner

Mr Gardiner says although the number of convictions recorded is relatively small, they still have a wide impact in the gay community.

”Terrible things happened to a smallish number of people but that was enough to keep everyone terrified,” he said.

”These laws ruin many people lives and cast a shadow over everyone else’s. ‘For those who lived through that era it still does”.

Spent convictions?

Recent legislation in the United Kingdom allows people to apply to have similar convictions deleted, and Dr Gerber says Australia should follow that lead.

“No Australian state or territory has gone down the same path as the UK and passed legislation that explicitly addresses the removal of criminal convictions for consensual homosexual conduct,” she said.

She says most jurisdictions in Australia have “spent convictions” legislation, meaning minor criminal offences committed more than 10 years ago will not show up on criminal police checks.

But she says in Victoria, it remains uncertain if offences for consensual homosexual acts will be included in criminal record checks.

“The rules about what is to be included in a police record check are part of police policy, rather than legislation, there is much discretion in the hands of the police as to what is, or is not, included in a criminal record check,” she said.

Victoria Police says it will not release details of a conviction if 10 years has elapsed, but notes this is subject to exceptions.

One of those exceptions is for sexual offences, if the record check is for the purposes working with children.

Mr Gardiner says some of the homosexual sex convictions fall into this category.

Source: ABC News

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A Few Tips For The Straight Guy

I came across this little story on GLWA’s facebook page which was sourced from craigslist.

It was well written and it prompted me to post it here and to mention the great timing of it for the launch of the amazing campaign “No To Homophobia

A mutual friend of ours threw a big party for her 30th birthday, tons of people were there and it was a lot of fun. Somewhere along the line you and I ended up on the balcony for some fresh air at the same time. We started chatting; we talked about sports, books, tv — discovered we both are about to start our masters degrees and spent

some time debating the pro’s and con’s of the educational system. We talked about hanging out sometime, and you wanted to meet my girlfriend.

I understand how upsetting it was for you when I blinked mildly in surprise and said I was here with my husband. I know it was a shock to your system, if your face had turned any paler I might have called 911. You made a good recovery though – that hurried mutter of “I’m not like that” was very polite and you only knocked over two drinks and one vase in your hurry to rush to anywhere other than near me. I can’t blame you — I forgot how delicate you straight boys are. So I wanted to give you a few helpful hints about where you went wrong last night.

1) As a general rule we don’t walk around with big signs around our neck proclaiming our sexuality. No scarlet letters, no scent of hellfire and brimstone… sorry about that.

2) We do not generally assume that everyone within 5 feet of us must also be homosexual — it was nice of you to immediately reassure me that you are hetero, but it was really unnecessary.

3) Homosexuality is not infectious. While I am sure you meant no disrespect with your hasty departure; in the future you can rest assured that taking a few extra seconds in your mad dash for safety will not result in you being turned gay. It will however keep you from destroying expensive vases and knocking over senior citizens.

4) This next one may come as a surprise; but you are not, in fact, irresistible. The fact that you have a dick does not instantly turn me into a bundle of uncontrolled lust. Contrary to popular opinion, being in the same room with a straight man does not cause a gay man to instantly lose all common sense and basic common courtesy. Though I am not so sure about the reverse.

5) Homosexuals in general get a little irked when people treat us like some sort of leper. Rushing to another mutual friend of ours and advising him of my sexuality, so he could be “forewarned” was really uncalled for.

6) Upon being told (by said mutual friend) to stop being an idiot and that you were not my type anyway… it generally confuses the issue when you then proceed to become upset that I DON’T find you attractive. Three seconds ago you were running through a crowd of people with your hands cupped protectively over your junk as if I might attack you at any moment with a blowjob. See hint number 4.

7) We homosexuals have an odd sense of humor — I can’t help that. Something about watching you freak out as if all the demons of hell were after you just struck me as vastly amusing.

8) While being pissed at me for dissolving into uncontrollable laughter might be understandable… gathering a couple guys together to “teach the fag a lesson” is not.

9) You might also want to drink a little less and be a little more careful about the guys you approach for your little proto-hate-mob.

10) Assuming the two tall muscle-bound bruisers must be uber-hetero and just as appalled by my presence as you was your first mistake. It was an understandable one though. How were you to know that pflag tshirt the first guy was wearing wasn’t a sports team? Also the rainbow ring the second guy was wearing could have meant anything I am sure.

11) In retrospect I suppose that upon hearing your not very subtle hate-talk and seeing who you were heading for; I could have said something instead of just laughing harder. I apologize for that. I should have just introduced you to my husband instead of letting you walk up to him and ask him if he wanted to help you teach “that fag over there” a lesson. I hope that broken nose heals up cleanly.


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Jeff Kennett on Gay AFL footballers

I guess it comes to no surprise that Jeff Kennett is on the gay bandwagon again?? He says he believes up to 5% of the AFL Players are gay, but live in secrecy…

I mean “DOH” as if most of us cannot work that one out for ourselves… I cannot understand why the chairman of Beyond Blue, who in past has made bad comments about the GLBTIQ community, thinks he is qualified to make this kind of assessment…

I am sure that there are gay AFL Players, and it is up to them to make the choice of “coming out”, Even they do not come out, I do not think that they would be in a high risk of suffering depression, as they would have the support of their families, close friends, and of course their football club if their sexuality is known….

Eddie Mcguire has made comment that he aware of gay AFL players, but as he stated, they are being looked after and it is up to them to make the choice of coming out…..

So, is this another bandwagon backhanded comment by Jeff Kennett to lift his profile at Beyond Blue???

Here is an article on the Foxsport website:

Jeff Kennett believes up to five per cent of AFL players are gay but are living in secrecy for fear of being ridiculed.

The former Victorian premier and Hawthorn Football Club president said players who concealed their sexuality from teammates were at risk of depression and, in this area, the sport had “a long way to go”.

“Not only am I not surprised at the number of players in the AFL who are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression – many of whom haven’t sought help for fear of being ridiculed or not selected – I’m also quite sure within the AFL there are a number of young men who are gay, who keep that fact to themselves, worried about how they’re going to be treated by their colleagues,” Kennett told Adelaide radio station 5AA.

Kennett said out of a playing group of 800, he would be “very surprised” if 40 or less weren’t gay.

Kennett recalled a conversation with a young player in recent years who said he was fearful of revealing his sexuality to his teammates because of locker room banter.

But he said attitudes had changed and peers would be accepting of their teammate’s sexuality.

“If he were to do so, I’m quite sure the players would embrace him, I’m quite sure the sort of comments that you could imagine being said in locker rooms, would not be said if, in fact, the playing group knew that one of their own was gay or was suffering a depressive illness,” Kennett said.

The comments come after rugby league referee Matt Cecchin recently revealed he was gay.


RUGBY League grand final referee Matt Cecchin has revealed he is gay

I came across this story this morning on the Herald Sun Website. I applause Matt for being brave and to come out. In the world of sport and macho-ism, it must be hard to be accepted for who you are and to be respected. One thing that did stick out with the story, is the fact that he waited for his son to finish he HSC. People criticise gay people when they come out with regards to timing. It is up to the individual as to when they are ready to come out and to express that…

Here is Matt’s Story as told in the Herald Sun……

Ending a closely held secret among parts of the rugby league community for the past six years, Cecchin has chosen to go public now his teenage son has completed his HSC.

Engaged 13 years ago, Cecchin told family and friends about his sexuality after reading retired NRL star Ian Roberts’ book, Finding Out.

Cecchin becomes the first NRL official or player since Roberts in 1995 to declare he is gay.

“Like a lot of people, I thought to be gay you had to be feminine, you had to go to nightclubs and you had to be in the scene, and I was never into that,” said Cecchin, who has refereed 116 NRL games and four Test matches.

“I played sport, I loved rugby league, I liked going to the pub with my mates.

 “It wasn’t until I read Ian’s book that I started to tick a few boxes.

“I would tell my mates to ask me every question they wanted answered. And there were some good ones, especially after a couple of schooners.

“Sure, sometimes it was uncomfortable. My old man played reserve grade for Newtown and comes from far north Queensland. I thought he’d take it really, really badly, but he was fantastic.”

When Cecchin was chosen to referee last year’s grand final he feared being confronted about his sexuality.

If so, he would have denied it, because his son was in the middle of his HSC exams.

“I didn’t want to tip his world upside down,” Cecchin said.

“I would do whatever I could to protect my son. He’s been so good to me about it. It hasn’t made the world of difference to him.”

Cecchin said he had never been sledged by NRL players, coaches or officials and didn’t expect to be.

“I can honestly say I’ve never, ever heard or been called anything to do with being gay on the field,” Cecchin said.

“I haven’t been treated as a token and I haven’t been discriminated against.

“I’d be very surprised if I was the only gay person in rugby league.

“But me coming out has nothing to do with other people in rugby league.

“It has to do with the youth who are growing up today and may be going through a whole world of hurt and fear.

“My experience is they don’t need to be. People are OK with it now.”

source: Herald Sun

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Pots, parmas and coming out: a lesson in understanding

I remember when I first heard about Gus’s story and I posted his youtube clip on here back in September 2011

Now Andrew Beck has written a article about it… Below is Andrew’s version.

I had no idea why we’d been called in for the meeting. There had been a few issues at the Essendon Hockey Club recently but surely nothing an email couldn’t clear up.

Shortly after the meeting, which was held last month, began, our friend and former goalkeeper Gus Johnston arrived. Instead of commanding the room as he usually might, he asked us to gather around the projector.

He spoke briefly and unlike himself. He was uncomfortable. His voice trembled and his hands shook. He tripped on his words. Even before he said it, I knew it was cancer.

He said that he’d made a video that he’d like us to watch that would explain everything. For 12 minutes we were transfixed. No one spoke or moved. A room full of young men, suspended in the flickering of the projector.

Gus wasn’t dying, he was gay.

Gus is a fearless hockey player and a natural leader. To realise that it had taken someone this courageous 32 years to open up to his friends was deeply upsetting. It was heartbreaking.

None of us had known, and none of us knew what to say. For a time we sat there, dealing with the shock and the nasty realisation that we had all in some way contributed to our friend’s distress.

We didn’t do too well putting these feelings into words; it was a lot to process. We were so proud and yet so sorry and more than anything we just wanted our friend to know that we were there for him. Thank god for hugs and handshakes.

Afterwards Gus and I went for a beer and a chat. I remember thinking, “Who are the good politicians for gay people?” I then realised with questions like that I might struggle to bring intelligent input to this conversation. I felt a sting of shame when I realised that because homosexuality wasn’t my “problem”, I’d never learned much about it.

Like most people who haven’t had much contact with gay people I had no idea what it must be like. Hours after Gus showed us his video he posted it on YouTube. I hope that it encourages people who are struggling to be as brave as Gus and that they can find support from their family and friends as well as their community.

Sitting there with Gus that night, all that I could do was ask what I hoped were fair questions and pray that I learned something. So amid pots and parmas, two blokes had a go at discussing homosexuality, love and loneliness.

Gus listened patiently to my waffling and our conversation went in a lot of different directions as we allowed it to take its own shape. Doing his story justice meant that years of buried memories were pushing their way to the surface.

It was at times difficult to hear about what growing up had been like for him. What it was like to be a teenager, trying to make sense of what was going on without anyone to talk to.

As he shared his thoughts, I could see the relief sinking into his bones. The distinctly human reaction to having someone to talk to and equally, having them listen and try to understand. At that point I forgave myself for every moment where I didn’t really know what to say because I realised that I was making a difference by just being there.

Andrew Beck is the goalkeeper for the Essendon Hockey Club and the Victorian Vikings. He is an advertising student at RMIT and works as a freelance copywriter.


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Movember or Homovember??

With events over the recent days with the comments from Jeff Kennett (The Chairman of Beyond Blue) regarding gay and lesbian parents, stating that the best environment for children is in a loving family unit with a mother and a father.

The comments have caused concerns within the GLBTIQ community. I also think it is a concern for people out there who have yet to come out, because of the issues they have to deal with coming out and how it affects them. As a gay parent myself and having worked with people coming out who are also parents, this is the last thing that needs to be put out there in the public by a person who regards him high up in the chain of command of an organisation that is supposed to be the national body for battling depression.

If Jeff could spend one session with me with a parent who is dealing with coming out and how they are going to cope, I am sure he would retract his comments as fast as he could say “I am sorry”. Coming out as a person is hard, but coming out as a parent is even harder, as you have to deal with issues of betrayal, guilt and depression as you have that extra element of telling your children. A number of parents who have come to me have  expressed great concerns of how their childern would react to the news of their parent being gay.  In most cases the children do react because of the kind of homophobia that is expressed in the media.

Being a parent also come first, regardless of the person sexual orientation. A persons sexuality has nothing to do with raising children. There are children in all sorts of family units, ranging from been born into a gay family, co-parenting, Parents coming out later in life, bisexual families, poly families, parents who are transgender, and of course heterosexual. Family is about love and caring for loved ones, it should not have a criteria and put in a box with standards, because if it did, then all families would have failed the test.

We teach our children to not judge and to be accepting of peoples differences without judgement. But as adults we cannot adapt the same teaching ourselves. We do really need to take a dose of our own medicine.

This is now the chance for the wider community to support organisations within the GLBTIQ community, that are the unsung heros, such as ALSO foundation, Gay and Lesbian Switchboard, Bi-Alliance, Zoe Belle Gender Centre, VICAIDS just to name a few. So if you want to donate to a worthy organisation, look at one in our own backyard, they can sure do with a few dollars within the community.

Also check out the Homovember website….


I will keep you updated with this project……



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Homophobia in Sport

I received an email from Gus Johnston about the reality of homophobia in sport the other day and watched his youtube clip about it.

Hope you enjoy the clip….

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