Expunging Gay Sex Convictions: Labor Wrong Again

NEWS TODAY that the Liberal government of Denis Napthine will expunge the criminal records of homosexuals convicted on charges relating to consensual gay sex is to be applauded; indeed, it is to be hoped that the other states follow suit, and fairly quickly. Even so, and once again, the Labor Party is hopelessly misguided in its response, and continues to show why it is far from ready to be trusted to resume government in the Garden State.

Irrespective of your sexual, political or even philosophical orientation, this was the wrong that should never have occurred: the prosecution of homosexual men for no better reason than the fact they engaged in relations together, away from public eyes.

The news today that the Napthine government in Victoria is to be the first in Australia to expunge the convictions of men prosecuted for having gay sex is to be welcomed and, hopefully a precedent that will be emulated by governments in the other states, irrespective of their political stripe.

Obviously, I am a conservative — a heterosexual conservative male at that — and have no interest in homosexual lifestyles; indeed, I find the entire concept repulsive. To put is as mildly as possible.

Even so, I think this is a tremendous development.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Victoria in 1981 by the Dick Hamer-led Liberal government but the issue of spent criminal convictions has remained for those directly affected ever since, left unaddressed by successive state governments run by the Liberals and the ALP alike.

The consequent criminal records have barred those that hold them from certain professions, travel to some countries, and so on.

Fittingly — as the article I’ve linked today from the Fairfax press notes — convictions for “non-consensual sex or sex with a minor” will stand; after all, rape and paedophilia are just that, irrespective of the “preferences” of those who perpetrate them.

The Labor opposition in Victoria has already promised to expunge these convictions if it regains office in November, and their bipartisanship on the issue is welcome.

Nonetheless, the Labor response to Napthine’s announcement smacks of jingoism and petty politics, and once again shows why the political Left is probably the single greatest obstacle to the realisation of its own pet causes.

The claim by Labor spokesman Martin Foley that the proposed legal changes ”sit uncomfortably” with Dr Napthine’s ”long-held opposition” to gay rights is just a cop-out, and reflects that general stance of the Left that not only is the only legitimate position on any given issue the one they advocate, but that “dissent” on related issues indicates that agreement on anything from those who sometimes have differences with them is baseless, invalid, or a smokescreen for something else.

These are the politics of the imbecile.

Clearly — and whilst they both affect homosexual people — gay marriage and the expunging of spent criminal convictions for homosexual activity are very much separate issues.

It is not inconsistent for a person of conservative philosophical and political views to oppose the former, but support the latter: like Napthine, this formulation also represents my own stance on these matters.

I don’t propose to get into a debate about gay marriage here — we’ve discussed it in this column often enough as it is — but for those who missed those discussions, a search on “gay marriage” in the box provided at the top of the screen will bring up some of the more recent articles I have published on the subject.

The one sentiment from those articles that I will replicate here is that when it comes to gay marriage, the conservative in me opposes it (on historical, institutional and societal grounds, with a firm eye to its tradition as a religious custom) whilst of gay people generally, the liberal in me says they should be permitted to do whatever they like between themselves, provided it isn’t forced on anyone else and provided the persons involved are consenting adults.

Far from being a contradiction — given this formulation is virtually identical to that of the Premier — it means that whatever differences I may have with those who support gay marriage, I think everyone can at least agree that this is a great idea that should have happened a long time ago.

Only the truly bigoted or rednecked will find Napthine’s announcement so odious as to take the equally odious step of trying to oppose it, and Foley and his cohorts know it, which is why — in the end — his ill-tempered remarks, representative of the Labor Party in Victoria as they are, demonstrate the ALP has learned nothing from its stint in the wilderness.