A couple of days ago, Minister of Justice, Amy Adams made a welcome announcement. The announcement was that people convicted of historic homosexual offences prior to a law change in 1986, shall have their sentences wiped from their record.
It is an acknowledgement that the persecution of same sex oriented people is improper, and a violation of ones right as an adult to have a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex. It is an acknowledgement that people of same sex orientation having such relations in the past were persecuted and that in knowing about their sexual relations, the people who were historically convicted, would have had their liberty intruded on by the state.
I wholeheartedly support the wiping of something that was not an offence by way of being socially or legally improper like offences such as domestic violence.
However, unlike the campaigners I am not of the opinion that people who were charged with same sex offences should receive compensation, unless they were convicted and handed down a jail sentence. Should a person have been sentenced to jail then they have a case because their liberty to work, earn and pay tax was taken away from them. The compensation should be in line with the income they were receiving from any job lost at the time of the conviction but adjusted for inflation.
New Zealand has made admirable progress in the last two decades acknowledging the imbalance between people of straight sexual orientation and L.G.B.T.Q. From the 2004 vote to enable Civil Unions, which drew significant protests from church groups and social conservatives, who were concerned about the impact it would have on New Zealand society. New Zealanders saw no major harm come about. Despite further protestations in 2013 that the decision to have a conscience vote in Parliament to legalise same sex marriage ran counter to New Zealand’s “judaeo-Christian” heritage, much bigger social threats, no prolonged or widespread negative effect appear to have fallen on society.
This is one area where I can see social equality eventually being achieved, even if it takes another 20 years. There are two much major areas of concern that still need to be addressed for L.G.B.T.Q. people to be able to say that socio-economic equality has been achieved. One is addressing concerns around gay men and the adoption/fathering of children. The other is around ensuring that hate crimes related to sexual orientation are taken as seriously as other hate crimes. Once informed of the facts of the matter and being allowed to have a formal debate as to whether or not New Zealand wants to address these issues, I believe New Zealanders generally would. If this is social progressivism at work, then social progressivism is a good thing.