Equality Australia welcomes apology, calls for NSW legal reform

11 May, 2024 – Equality Australia has welcomed news the NSW government will make a formal state apology to people convicted under laws that criminalised homosexual acts and called for more legal reforms. 

Premier Chris Minns made the announcement on Saturday in the lead up to the 40th anniversary of decriminalisation in NSW.

“An apology in parliament will be a powerful symbolic act that will go some way to healing the pain and harm caused by these unjust laws, but it must also deal with the present and be backed by action,” said Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown. 

“These unjust criminal laws created a climate of fear and prejudice that, 40 years on, our community still grapples with today and sadly our laws continue to entrench discrimination that casts a shadow over the lives of LGBTIQ+ people. 

“State parliament recently passed historic laws banning conversion practices in the first major reform for our community in almost a decade, and the next step is to change our laws to ensure all people and families are equal in NSW.”   

Ms Brown said NSW parliament was currently considering Independent MP Alex Greenwich’s Equality Bill, which will close carve-outs that allow religious schools and organisations to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, better protect people from violence, recognise more rainbow families and ensure trans people can access birth certificates without cruel and unnecessary barriers. 

In 2016, former SA Premier Jay Weatherill apologised to the LGBTIQ+ community for the “pain and distress” caused by discriminatory laws and alongside this passed a suite of laws to “right many wrongs of the past”.  

Ms Brown urged the Minns Government to take a similar approach and deal with both the legacy of unjust criminal laws and the ongoing discrimination faced by LGBTIQ+ people.  

“The Minns Government has an opportunity to not only address the pain and suffering of 40 years ago, but also the ongoing discrimination faced by LGBTIQ+ communities today,” she said. 

“As NSW comes to grips with this painful chapter in our history there is no better time for the government to catch-up with the rest of Australia and remove the remaining discrimination under our laws, so everyone is protected and treated fairly.” 

Media contact: Tara Ravens 0408 898 154, tara.ravens@equalityaustralia.org.au