Tasmania will be the first Australian state to formally issue an apology for historic convictions related to consensual gay sex.
Criminal records will also be expunged by the state, as the apology will be issued in the Tasmanian Parliament.
Gay rights advocate Rodney Croome said he had personally been in touch with at least six people who were convicted in the mid 20th century.
“For those men who were prosecuted in Tasmania for simply being in same-sex relationships it will be a great relief to be rid of the disadvantage and stigma that comes with an unfair criminal record,” Mr Croome said.
“They want to apply for the expungement, and then for it to go away, he said. “None were willing to speak publicly.
“But I have absolutely no doubt the apology will be important to them, as it will to the families of those who have since died.”
Tasmanian’s Liberal Attorney-General, Vanessa Goodwin, said the apology would be extended to all of those affected, including families and loved ones of those deceased.
“The legislation will ensure any individual prosecuted under these offences will no longer suffer distress or be disadvantaged by a criminal record in relation to travel, employment, and volunteering,” Dr Goodwin said.
Tasmania joins South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT in allowing criminal records to be expunged.
It was the last state to decriminalise gay sex, doing so in 1997. Prior to that, gay sex could be punished with up to 21 years in jail.
It is currently not possible to have historic gay sex crimes expunged in Queensland, Western Australia, or the Northern Territory.
The ACT was the first to decriminalise homosexuality back in 1973.
The Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly in November voted to wipe out historic gay sex crimes.