NSW government makes historic apology to people convicted under laws that criminalised homosexual

6 June, 2024 –Equality Australia has welcomed the NSW government’s historic apology to people convicted under laws that criminalised homosexual acts but says it also acts as a reminder of the state’s unfinished business. 

Premier Chris Minns made the apology on behalf of the parliament and the people of NSW on Thursday, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of decriminalisation in the state. 

“Nothing can ever make up for the shame inflicted on people, the jobs they couldn’t apply for or the anguish of having to hide criminal records from family and friends,” said Equality Australia Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh. 

“People were hated and hunted just for being who they are, under threat of imprisonment by their government and condemned by their community. 

“This apology by the NSW Parliament has gone some way to addressing the harm and hurt caused by these unjust laws that left so many people with criminal records that should never have existed, or the fear of simply living and loving.” 

A statement signed by 29 LGBTIQ+ community organisations was tabled in parliament alongside the apology, calling on MPs to resolve the “unfinished business of our times”. 

Read statement: https://equalityaustralia.org.au/statement-from-the-community/ 

As you deliver this historic and gracious apology, we now call on the NSW Parliament to honour the bravery of our rainbow elders and make it better for the next generation by also finishing the unfinished business of 1984,” it says. 

“Let’s make 2024 the year that NSW finally removes all the remaining discrimination facing LGBTIQ+ people in our laws.”  

The historical homosexual offences created a climate of fear and prejudice the LGBTIQ+ community still grapples with in 2024, Mr Kassisieh said, adding that earlier this week a parliamentary inquiry recommended an LGBTIQA+ Equality Bill proceed for parliamentary consideration. 

It would 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. 

“NSW has among the worst laws in the country for LGBTIQ+ people,” Mr Kassisieh said.  

“As NSW comes to grips with this painful chapter in its history, it’s time to catch-up with the rest of Australia and remove its remaining legal discrimination so that all people and families are treated equally.” 


ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill AM: 

“This apology is an important act of reconciliation by the NSW Government in recognising the harm and damage caused by these unjust laws, which were used to target and mistreat LGBTQ+ people. As an LGBTQ+ health organisation, we recognise deeply the detrimental health impacts that these wrongful convictions have had on members of our communities. 

“We see this apology as an important step towards healing the past, which must now be followed by a clear roadmap to address historical wrongs, improve policing practices and ensuring legal protections for our communities.  

“The current Equality Bill before the NSW Parliament is a critically important opportunity to enact legislation that will provide dignity and respect to all LGBTQ+ people in NSW, and right the wrongs of the past.”