Legislative Council Wednesday 20 September 2017
Resumed from 16 August 2017
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I support this bill. I do so for many reasons. Before I go into those, I would like to quote an article from the ABC that reflects my reasons for support and acknowledges the work done by our Leader, the honourable Vanessa Goodwin. I wish to thank her for her dedication to righting, as much as we can, some terrible wrongs done at a time before many of us were in this place. Many of those wrongs resulted from the delay in decriminalising homosexuality in Tasmania, a move blocked by the Legislative Council, this place, a number of times. I will come to that shortly.
To quote from the ABC -
The island state was the last Australian state to decriminalise homosexuality in 1997 but some men convicted before then still carry criminal records. However, Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin said decriminalisation itself was not enough. 'The repeal did not address the implications for those with existing criminal records pertaining to consensual homosexual activity', she said.
'The legislation will ensure that any individual prosecuted under those offences will no longer suffer distress or be disadvantaged by a criminal record in relation to travel, employment and volunteering'.
I agree it is time we addressed these great injustices. The article goes on -
In addition to repeal of criminal records, the Tasmanian Government will also formally apologise to all those affected including families and loved ones of people who are now deceased. Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Rodney Croome praised the move. 'For those men who were prosecuted in Tasmania for simply being in a same-sex relationships it will be a great relief to be rid of the disadvantage and stigma that comes with an unfair criminal record,' he said. 'I am proud that Tasmania will be the first state to apologise to those arrested and their families because it will lift a burden from their shoulders and send the strongest possible message yet that Tasmania is a progressive and inclusive society.' Mr Croome said he hoped for a similar response to other laws which have since been repealed. 'Tasmania was the only state to criminalise cross-dressing and I look forward to people targeted under those provisions having the opportunity to clear their names and their records', he said.
Mr President, I am sure honourable members would have considered the final report of the former anti-discrimination commissioner, titled Treatment of historic criminal records for consensual homosexual activity and related conduct. The recommendations of this report have in many ways been reflected in the bill before us; however, a number of key recommendations are not reflected in this bill.
I have sought a range of amendments seeking to address some of the key recommendations that have not been adopted. As the Acting Leader stated, the bill establishes a scheme for the expunging of charges and convictions relating to historical offences, specifically homosexual offences and cross-dressing.
We know that Tasmania was the last state in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality. It was not so long ago that Tasmanians still faced the risk of prosecution relating to homosexuality, certainly within our lifetimes. Not only were gay men at risk of being charged, convicted and imprisoned because of their sexual orientation, in many cases they also experienced hatred, discrimination and violence. Many felt they had no alternative but to leave their home in Tasmania. Some took their own lives, devastating families and friends, as they saw this was the only way.
I believe it is important to add a historical overview to this bill. In Tasmania, during the convict period, there were harsh penalties for anyone found engaged in what was called 'unnatural vice'. The end of convict transportation did not bring an end to the persecution of homosexuals. The last man to hang for sodomy in the British Empire was in Tasmania in 1867. In the subsequent 100 years, Tasmania had one of the highest rates of imprisonment for private consenting male sex anywhere in the English-speaking world. The maximum punishment for male-to-male sex was also the hardest in the English-speaking world. It was 21 years in jail, higher than for rape or armed robbery, the maximum punishment for which was 14 years in jail.
Tasmania was also the only state to criminalise cross-dressing. This led to the arrest, harassment and blackmail of transgender people, simply for being who they are. One of the men arrested under the former anti-gay laws was 'Bert'. In a 1976 article in the Launceston Examiner, 'Why Noel Shot Himself and Bert Went to Gaol', Bert said -
If there had been reform in 1958 I would have been saved from the worst period of my life. I was 21 and living with another man of the same age. The police came to the house and asked who lived there. When we said we did, they asked where we slept and we pointed to the only bed in the house. We were taken to the police station, interviewed and charged with gross indecency. In the Supreme Court, I pleaded guilty. I had no legal representation. The case was over in 10 minutes. I got three years.
In 1997, only 20 years ago, the Tasmanian Parliament finally decriminalised homosexuality with the repeal of sections 122A, 122C and 123 of the Criminal Code Act 1924.
Cross-dressing, an offence unique to Tasmania, was an offence under the Police Offences Act 1935. It was only repealed in 2001.
It is important to remember that legislation of decriminalised homosexuality was presented to the upper House six times between 1990 and 1997. Six times. Five times it was voted down, often in angry terms, and some I will refer to.
It is a reality that the stubborn refusal of the upper House to change the law damaged Tasmania's reputation across the nation and around the world. London's Observer newspaper ran a front-page story declaring Tasmania to be the 'bigots' island'. The damage to the LGBTI community was immense. As well as the damage to our reputation, society and economy, many young LGBTI people fled Tasmania. Young LGBTI people also took their own lives because of the hate the upper House perpetuated and inflamed. We know this for certain because some people - like Nick Donovan from Westbury - left suicide notes saying so.
Nothing will bring those young people back, but at least we, as current members of the Legislative Council, can acknowledge the pain it caused and ensure it does not happen again. So today, I agree with the comments expressed by members of the other place and the honourable Leader in her speech. I acknowledge that laws criminalising consensual homosexual activity and cross-dressing were unfair and unjust.
Many Tasmanians suffered as a result of these laws. Many have lived with the stigma and shame and are now quite elderly.
I expect it is now the widely held view in our community that these people should never have been charged and convicted in the first place.
We know we cannot and must not forget the past as to do so would suggest these terrible experiences did not occur. We know they did and that they caused great harm.
We must acknowledge the suffering caused to LBGTI Tasmanians and their families by these historical laws. Not only did they suffer at the time, but many Tasmanians have continued to suffer from distress and disadvantage resulting from the criminalisation of conduct which we now accept as lawful.
As the Acting Leader said, despite the repeal of homosexual offences, some men continue to have criminal records that affect various aspects of their lives such as work, volunteering and travelling.
This bill currently allows for the expunging of charges and convictions for these historical offences. This will remove the ongoing disadvantage and stigma that results from having a criminal record.
Today we remember all those Tasmanians who suffered under our former laws against homosexual and transgender people. We acknowledge the immense and often hidden pain caused by those laws. I offer my apology for this pain and suffering.
I apologise to the LBGTI members of our community and their families who were hurt and negatively impacted by convictions recorded as a result of these laws. I am sorry they faced this unjust law and its impact for so many years.
Many members of the other place offered apologies in their contributions. It is important we also do so, especially as members of the Legislative Council. That is a matter that can be progressed at another time if necessary.
I offer my apology to those who were arrested, jailed, disgraced, ostracised, harassed, hounded, driven out or driven to their death. I am so sorry that was the outcome of these laws. I also regret Tasmania was the last state to repeal laws against consensual sex between men and against cross-dressing.
I hold my hand to my heart in a gesture of contrition and reconciliation. We hope all those who have been hurt can find it in themselves to accept and forgive as we look to the future as well as the past.
In particular, I would like Tasmanians who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex to know we embrace them as worthy Tasmanians and know they are welcome and wanted. I hope prejudice and ignorance never divide us again.
We must remember some former members of the Legislative Council made some terribly derogatory comments during the time prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality. These comments caused great and significant pain and harm to many people.
As noted in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights submissions in 1991, numerous figures of authority in Tasmania made derogatory remarks about lesbians and gay men over the years prior to decriminalisation.
I note at this time too that these were made by former members of this place. I will quote a couple of their comments -
The police need to … track down and wipe out like murderers, drug addicts and deviant Aids carriers … when I hear a minister of the Crown making reference to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, I feel sick to the guts - when I hear these people, i.e. homosexuals, talk about human rights, my blood boils.
That statement was made by the honourable Richard Archer, MLC. It is recorded in the Legislative Council Hansard, volume 5, page 755, 1 November 1989. It was also referred to in the Examiner of 2 November 1989.
Another statement -
Homosexuals … choose not to accept democracy ... they are destroying the very system that guarantees them the right to have a say.
That statement was made by the honourable George Brookes, MLC and is recorded in the Legislative Council Hansard, volume 8, page 1244, 2 July 1991. He also made the following statement -
I believe we ought to be … tightening up the laws, making them a little more drastic than they are now, a little more draconian and maybe we would influence a few of them to take a plane north … where it has been decriminalised. Do not let them sully our state with their evil activities.
The latter comment is recorded in the Legislative Council Hansard, volume 8, page 1246, 2 July 1991.
I ask members to try to imagine how awful it would have been to hear that as a member of the LGBTI community. In an effort to get around the blind resistance of this Chamber, LGBTI Tasmanians had to take their case for equal treatment to the UN Human Rights Committee, then they had to take it to the federal government and the High Court of Australia. This process took eight years and countless hours of effort and angst.
This is an extract from the submissions of the UN Human Rights Committee written by a Tasmanian gay man, Nick Toonen. It is a reminder that gay law reform advocates were harassed, attacked and even arrested just for asking for the law to be changed. My quote is from that submission -
In September 1998 the local government authority in the city of Hobart, the Hobart City Council, banned the stall of the Gay Law Reform Group from a local market on the basis that:
1. homosexual acts are against the law;
2. the market was not the proper place for such a stall; and
3. most people do not accept homosexuality (the stall had been established to gather signatures on a petition calling for gay law reform and was located amongst other stalls similarly advocating political causes but which remained unmolested).
When the law reform stall holders, including myself, refused to obey the Council's ban on the basis that it was discriminatory, the Council instructed the police to arrest all those people who were staffing the stall and all those people associated with the group who were in the vicinity of the Market.
I was not arrested myself but I faced arrest if I entered the Market, regardless of my activity in that Market and I also faced harassment from the police as a prominent member of the law reform group. Again, I believe that these violations of my right to free association and right to free speech were due in part to the existence of those laws which criminalise all male homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.
Since this time, and along with other homosexual people in Tasmania, I have faced condemnation, denunciation and vilification from public figures because of my sexual orientation and because my sexual activity is against the law. I have also experienced verbal and physical harassment and abuse because of my sexual orientation - motivated, I believe, at least in part, by the stigma which the criminal law attaches to my sexual orientation.
Examples of this vilification and verbal and physical harassment include: being threatened and abused by a group of youths with cricket bats in Ulverstone in June 1989, following a rally held to protest the proposed decriminalisation of male homosexual acts between consenting adults in private; learning, via reports in the media in late 1998, that the then Premier, Mr Robin Gray, MHA, had said that 'everyone is welcome in Tasmania, even Aboriginals and Greenies, but not homosexuals'.
Reading a letter from the Anglican Chaplan of the Launceston General Hospital, which was published in a daily newspaper and which stated that 'people should not be afraid to be called gay bashers';
That was in the Examiner of October 1990 -
… reading in a daily newspaper that an Ulverstone Municipal Councillor, Jack Breheney, had publically stated that 'representatives of the gay community are no better than Saddam Hussein and the murderers of Anita Cobby';
That was in the Examiner February 1991 -
hearing parliamentarian Mr Richard Archer, MLC, state on the floor of parliament that myself and other gay men are criminals and should be 'tracked down and wiped out like murderers'.
That is a quote from Hansard in 1989 in their quote from their submission to the Human Rights Committee.
I believe we should be willing to apologise to those who suffered under these laws and by comments made by community leaders on the strength of those laws. As we have for other decisions of the past that have caused great harm, we should be willing to do so again in this instance.
I will not speak specifically on all the other provisions in the bill, as the Acting Leader's second reading speech covered most of them. As members are aware, I have requested amendments that will be dealt with in the Committee stage. Some areas are worthy and would benefit from amendment but, after significant consultation with key stakeholders, I have decided not to proceed with some of them at this time.
I believe the inclusion of a review clause is essential to ensure a full independent review can occur in a timely manner to enable matters that may be of concern and result in barriers to access or risk of disclosure of expunged records - I think they will become apparent and could be addressed through later amendment if necessary. I will speak briefly to the intent of the amendments now and more fully in the Committee stage.
I have proposed an amendment to deal with applications that can be made for expungement where a person with a historical record has lost capacity. The bill deals with a situation where a person has died, but not where a person lacks capacity. As a number of individuals directly impacted by this legislation are elderly, the risk they may not be able to apply due to a loss of capacity needs to be addressed.
I still have concerns regarding the hierarchical structure that prescribes who can apply if a person has died or lacks capacity. I have had a number of discussions with the acting Attorney General on this and other aspects of the bill in an attempt to ensure the bill before us does not deter or make it more difficult for people to access the necessary changes. That is one I have put on hold at this stage, Mr President. It may need to be addressed following the review.
The compromise position reached in terms of the amendments is in the interest of getting an important piece of legislation in place. Hopefully these challenges may be addressed through the inclusion of a review clause. I have also proposed amendments to clauses 8, 9 and 11 and will speak to these more in the Committee stage. In broad terms, these amendments seek to insert fairness provisions that require the secretary to notify the applicant if the secretary refuses the application and to provide time for the applicant to make a further submission in relation to the refusal and to ensure a withdrawal of an application does not preclude a later application.
Members would have noted the proposed amendments circulated earlier to clauses 13 and 16. I have decided not to proceed with those proposed amendments in the interests of getting the majority of these amendments supported.
With regard to clause 13, though I am not seeking amendments to it now, I seek an assurance from the Acting Leader in her reply or in the Committee stage that it is clearly understood and reiterated by her that the intention of this clause is understood to be, and is consistent with, the expectation that the effect of an expunged charge is a reality whereby it is as if the charge and/or conviction never happened. That is, that the charge or conviction never existed.
With clause 13 as it currently stands, there could be some doubt about that. My proposed amendments sought to address that. Clarification from the Acting Leader in her reply may give some comfort to those who are concerned about that clause. Any disclosure contrary to this intent should and will be prohibited. I hope the Acting Leader will be able to confirm that in relation to clause 13.
Proposed amendments to clause 14 and 15 relate to ensuring all information relating to an expunged charge is removed, not just the charge itself. This ensures that those impacted by the historic charges are free from any record that indicates they had such a charge in the past. We are, after all, seeking to right a wrong and so we need to ensure we do so properly.
My proposed amendment to clause 16 relates to disclosure of expunged documents. I propose an amendment to facilitate access to these records under strict controls for limited research purposes. The final amendment that will strengthen the bill is the insertion of an independent review clause, particularly as a number of recommendations in the Treatment of historic criminal records for consensual homosexual activity and related conduct report outline. It is important that the operation of the act, once enacted, be reported in the annual report of the Department of Justice, particularly on matters including, but not limited to, the number of applications, the number of expunged charges, applications that did not fall within the scope of the act and applications rejected in part or in full, and the time frame taken for the processing of these applications. That information will be able to inform the independent review at a later time.
These will be further discussed in the Committee stage. I would like to make some comments and ask some questions of the Acting Leader in respect to some aspects of the bill, particularly recommendations made in the report that were not taken up. They do not fit into the bill itself, so I appreciate responses to these questions in the Acting Leader's reply.
The Government decided not to adopt all the recommendations of the 2015 report by the former anti-discrimination commissioner, the Treatment of historic criminal records for consensual homosexual activity and related conduct. In particular, it decided not to establish a historical criminal records expert panel to determine applications. The bill before us rather provides for applications to be determined by the secretary of the responsible department, the Department of Justice.
This is not the most appropriate approach. However, this decision can be reviewed as part of the independent review if this inclusion is supported. On the decision regarding the use of the secretary of the department as opposed to a panel, I ask the Acting Leader to provide some further clarification in her reply on these matters.
On what basis did the Government determine that the decision-maker for the expungement applications would be the Secretary of the Department of Justice despite clear recommendations based on consultation with the former anti discrimination commissioner that it should be a panel made up of the Anti Discrimination Commissioner, the Working with Vulnerable People registrar and the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Tasmania?
I would also like to know what responses were received on this issue by the Government when it consulted on the draft bill in 2016. In the former anti-discrimination commissioner's final report, she identified she had consulted on three broad options for the appointment of a responsible decision-maker. The first involved application to a member of the judiciary or court; the second, by application to a relevant minister; and the third, to the head of an agency.
She noted that, given the nature of the issues raised in the expungement process, it was her view that the scheme should be established in a way that enables the greatest flexibility in the way in which determinations are made and the information that is sought to enable a decision. She also noted that ideally, applications should be addressed with as little formality as possible. The intention of the scheme is not to conduct a retrial or to conduct formal hearing of evidence. She particularly noted the importance of removing the decision-making from the political sphere.
For these reasons, the former anti-discrimination commissioner identified prior to the consultation preference for applications to be made to the Secretary of the Department of Justice or similar, with the provision for them to appoint a senior legal practitioner, such as a retired judge or former prosecutor, or for an advisory panel to assess applications.
Stakeholder organisations that responded to former the anti-discrimination commissioner's discussion paper indicated their very strong view that locations of the scheme within any agency historically connected with the enforcement of anti-gay laws is likely to deter applicants from seeking to have their records expunged.
The preferred model of those groups - as these were the groups most directly affected - was for the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to receive and assess submissions for the decisions to be reviewed or be reviewable by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. The former anti discrimination commissioner considered that approach and stated her view that the nature of the issues to be assessed as part of any scheme that enables historic convictions to be disregarded is sufficiently different from the role and functions of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to warrant the establishment of arrangements that are separate from those functions.
The former anti-discrimination commissioner also further considered the underlying concerns that led to the relevant recommendation. On the basis of that, it was recommended that a historical criminal records expert panel be established comprising the Dean of the Faculty of Law of University of Tasmania, the registrar under the Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Act 2013 and the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. The advantages of this approach are that responsibilities are attached to identified and ongoing positions rather than to individuals, and that the scheme would retain capacity to deal with applications over time without the need for new individuals to be considered for appointment.
To comment briefly on the suggested membership of the panel, it is worth noting that the Department of Justice has responsibilities to undertake checks of people who seek registration to work with vulnerable people. An important rationale for centralising processes for conducting criminal record checks is to ensure improved consistency in the way criminal record information is assessed. For this reason, it would be appropriate for the registrar appointed under the Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Act to be included as a panel member. The Dean of Law at the University of Tasmania will provide expertise in the law and legal history together with independence from all branches of government and understanding of the social context in which historic penalties were conceived. The Anti-Discrimination Commissioner will provide understanding of the discriminatory impact of historical convictions and records and is seen by key stakeholders as an entity applicants are likely to trust.
A historical criminal records expert panel, as recommended, would be responsible for assessing applications, including conducting private inquiries involving relevant parties to matters raised within the application. The panel would have the authority to seek to issue a binding order in relation to the relevant records in whole or part, or dismiss the application. Under this model, it would be appropriate for the Commissioner of Police to be provided with the capacity to make representations to the panel on matters related to the application.
While I decided not to proceed with what would have been a very extensive set of amendments to achieve this desired effect, I ask members to support the inclusion of a review clause to ensure that if the current proposed structure provides a barrier to some applicants because of its closeness to government or political process, this will be detected sooner rather than later, especially as many of the men this bill seeks to assist are quite elderly.
I have also had lengthy conversations and consultation with key stakeholders and the Acting Attorney General and his advisers in reaching this decision.
While these amendments fall short of addressing the genuine concerns, significant improvements will be achieved with the proposed amendments.
A question on which I would appreciate feedback from the Acting Leader is with regard to clauses 8(10) and (11). Again, this can be done in the Committee stage. This relates to these clauses of the bill. Do these provide absolute protection against charges being laid for perjury or similar in the event a person makes a truthful statement that is inconsistent with statements et cetera made during the original court proceedings? They may have made those statements to protect another partner. That needs to be clarified.
The Commissioner's report recommended in recommendation 19 -
Information provided to the Historic Criminal Records Expert Panel as part of the application and during subsequent investigation not be capable of being used in any proceedings for perjury or similar offences related to statements or evidence given at the time of the original offence.
This is done in recognition of the possibility that testimony given in evidence at investigation or the hearing of the original charge may have been false to protect one or more of those involved in the incident from charges being laid or being convicted. This reflects the very stigmatising affect of such charges and convictions, and the potential impact on people's employment as well as their family and social interactions.
I also question the rationale behind excluding the possibility of an oral hearing, in clause 8(2) and seek feedback from the Acting Leader on that point. The bill expressly precludes the secretary from holding an oral hearing. It would be useful to understand the reason for this exclusion. While it may relate to the need to avoid the secretary being perceived as engaging in a quasi-judicial process, it is not unknown for an administrative redress process to allow for an oral hearing.
It is also relevant to note that the Queensland Law Reform Commission recommended that the expungement scheme allow for a decision-maker to call for or receive information orally or in writing. This is an appropriate way in dealing with the needs of the community who have poor literacy and often difficulty in explaining their circumstances in writing. I hope the Acting Leader can provide some feedback on that decision.
Mrs Hiscutt - Did you flag these?
Ms FORREST - I sent these through ages ago, way back.
Further to this question, I also ask whether the secretary or the decision-maker can obtain expert or specialist advice from people with, for example, an understanding of the impact of criminalisation of homosexual and transgender conduct on gay or transgender members of the community, or the impact of targeted policing affecting members of the LGBTI community.
This is important, as the bill does not expressly provide for the secretary to have access to specialist advice. Such advice should properly include advice from, for example, people with an understanding of the impact of criminalisation of homosexual and transgender conduct on gay and transgender members of our community, as well as the history of targeted policing affecting such people.
While the secretary may from time to time have some understanding of the history and related issues, this is unlikely to always be the case and should be expressly dealt with in the legislation.
On the matter of ensuring awareness of the right to apply for expungement, what does the Government propose to ensure widespread advertising in both Tasmania and beyond to ensure people are aware of their right to apply and have their charges expunged? As many of these people have left this state, it is important it is not just advertised within Tasmania. It is clear that without clear and repeated advertising of the right to apply, many people, particularly those who have left Tasmania, will not become aware of their right to apply for the expungement of charges. This will undermine the positive benefit of the scheme to those people and, beyond that, to the reputation of a state that has learned from and seeks to remedy its history in relation to criminalisation of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Regarding the matter of assistance to applicants, what arrangement does the Government propose, if any, to implement to ensure that applicants have access to appropriate legal and other supports, including counselling when dealing with the process? I raise this as an important matter because applicants are likely to come from diverse backgrounds and may need assistance to understand the process and their rights under the process, particularly in relation to making submissions and any reviews undertaken. This will have an impact on their legal needs and should be recognised when implementing the scheme. Further dealing with these historical records may cause trauma for some applicants.
I would like the Acting Leader to address the fact that the bill does not encompass charges laid for an offence that would not have arisen but for police interaction with a person in respect of what is defined as a historical offence. This was raised in the discussion paper and in the final report in recommendations 2(c) and 4.
I believe this is within the scope of a decision to expunge charges and convictions. To do otherwise fails to recognise that the individuals affected will continue to have a criminal record that would not have existed but for being homosexual or transgender and thereby coming to the attention of the police. The charges and convictions most likely to have arisen in this way relate to public order offences - resisting arrest, offensive conduct and assaulting police.
I appreciate this is a difficult area to address and get right, but I hope it will be part of the review if it is having a negative impact on those who are actually impacted by these historic laws.
In closing, I reiterate and I support the intent and goodwill behind this bill, and again thank the honourable Vanessa Goodwin, Leader of the Government in this House, for being the driving force behind this bill.
I am personally aware of many who want this bill progressed and there are also many directly impacted by this bill who strongly support the changes I have proposed through these amendments. These are people who are directly impacted by this. These amendments are not being driven by me as I have no personal experience of such injustice. I encourage all honourable members to support the bill and later the amendments proposed to address and seek to correct some of the wrongs done to our fellow Tasmanians.
We need to listen to the views and concerns of those directly impacted by this bill and the former laws that result in unjust treatment and experiences of many. This injustice is something we cannot deny or take away, but we can act to remove the historical records they have. If those records are not removed, they will continue to impact negatively on our fellow Tasmanians. Those with this personal experience, and their loved ones, are the only ones who really understand this impact. We do not understand the personal impact or cost, so we must listen to them.
I acknowledge the immense and often hidden pain caused by those laws and again I offer my apology for that pain and suffering. I apologise to the LGBTI members of our community and their families who are hurt and negatively impacted by convictions recorded as a result of these laws. I am sorry they have faced this unjust law and its impact for so many years.
I again offer my apology to those who were arrested, jailed, disgraced, ostracised, harassed, hounded, driven out or driven to their deaths. I am very sorry this was the outcome of these laws. I also regret that Tasmania was the last state to repeal the laws against consensual sex between men and against cross-dressing. I hope that all those who have been hurt can find it in themselves to accept it and forgive as we look to the future, as well as acknowledging the past. Again, I want to remind Tasmanians who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex that we embrace them as worthy Tasmanians; they are welcome and wanted. I hope this prejudice and ignorance never divides us again and we can live in a respectful, inclusive, supporting and welcoming state for all Tasmanians and those who choose to travel here and live here. This is the state of which I am, and will be proud to be, an elected representative.
Mr President, I support the bill and the second reading to progress the bill into the Committee stage.