Thursday, July 07, 2016

National doesn't care about justice

This week is the 30th anniversary of homosexual law reform in New Zealand. Up until 1986, consensual sex between men was illegal, and punishable by up to seven years imprisonment. Hundreds of people were prosecuted under this law, and jailed unjustly for something which should never have been a crime. But while the law was changed, its victims still carry those convictions. This week, Green MP Kevin Hague presented a petition to Parliament calling for those convictions to be reversed:

Thirty years on from homosexual law reform Green MP Kevin Hague has presented a petition to Parliament calling for an official apology to the men who were convicted before 1986 for having sex with other men.

He wants the convictions overturned and said it's time the government put things right.

"For those people who are still alive, this will have cast a massive blight on their entire lives most likely, the same might apply to families [of men who aren't alive], because one of the consequences of a conviction quite often is that it tore families apart."

Hague is right. Our government committed gross injustices. It needs to make that right. Forgiving convictions is the least it can do (arguably, its victims are also deserving of compensation). Unfortunately, Amy Adams has dismissed it out of hand as "too hard". Faced with an ongoing injustice, National just shrugs its shoulders and says "meh".

While there are obvious challenges caused by the conflation in the law of consensual and non-consensual sex, I don't think it is beyond the wit of the government to fix this. The courts are legally required to retain records, so its not as if the core data is missing; all it will take is some time spent trawling through them to find relevant cases. National's upfront refusal to do this tells us clearly that they simply do not care about justice. And if that's the case, the Minister should resign so we can get someone who does.