Men who were convicted for gay sex during a time when New Zealand considered it a criminal act will be pardoned.
Parliament may also give them an official apology if all parties agree to it.
Justice Minister Amy Adams announced today the move will allow nearly 200 people convicted of homosexuality to have their crimes erased.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in New Zealand in 1986.
‘There is no doubt that homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted and branded as criminals for consensual activity suffered tremendous hurt and stigma, and we are sorry for what those men and their families have gone through and the continued effect the convictions have had on them,’ Adams said.
Those who were convicted of indecency between males, sodomy, or keeping places of resort for homosexual acts will be able to apply to the Secretary of Justice for a pardon.
Families of convicted people will also be able to apply on their behalf.
This means that any person who has died with a criminal record will not be automatically pardoned.
‘Although we can never undo the impact on the lives of those affected, it’s hoped that this scheme will provide a meaningful pathway for the convictions to be expunged,’ Adams added.
‘This means people will be treated as if they had never been convicted and removes the stigma and prejudice which can arise from convictions for homosexual offences.’
The policy comes after Britain officially pardoned thousands of gay and bisexual men who were criminalized for homosexuality. Ireland also announced recently it will follow suit.