Page 3919 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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pleasing to see that over that journey so many areas of discriminatory legislation have been wiped from the statute books and that an unfortunate era in this country’s history has now been put behind us.

What remains unfinished business is the matter of marriage equality: it is, I believe, a year since this place took the historic position of being the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise marriage equality, to legalise same sex unions by way of marriage. Of course, we all know of the subsequent intervention by the commonwealth and the decision of the High court. What this year and this anniversary represent is this issue being firmly being placed on the national agenda.

I hope that the federal parliament is able to deal with it in the very near future, and I welcome the fact that the new Prime Minister, at least prior to taking on that role, indicated his personal support for and that he would in fact vote for marriage equality in this country. I think it is the first time in Australian political history that we have both a Leader of the Opposition and a Prime Minister who support marriage equality. That is a significant thing and it undoubtedly brings the moment of equality closer for so many Australians who have been striving for so long to achieve that.

But today is about the spent convictions amendment bill. I commend the Attorney-General once again for his personal leadership on these reform matters. Throughout the journey of reform of the ACT law, Simon Corbell has been a leading figure, a leading advocate and someone who has worked diligently in order to ensure that we are a fairer city. Today represents another step in that journey and I, on behalf of my parliamentary colleagues, thank Simon once again for all the hard work that he has undertaken to achieve a fairer Canberra.

In closing, I again thank the Leader of the Opposition for his very generous remarks in his contribution this evening.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.50): I am pleased to support this bill on behalf of the ACT Greens. As a jurisdiction that strives to be welcoming of diversity, it is important that we take steps to undo historical injustices that have seen people persecuted on the basis of their sexuality.

Members will know that the Greens have a long and proud history of standing up for gay and lesbian Australians and for advancing equality. Former Greens leader Bob Brown became the first openly gay member of the parliament of Australia and it was actually Christine Milne in Tasmania who achieved legislative reform in the Tasmanian parliament to decriminalise homosexuality finally in l997. People will be surprised to know perhaps how late that happened.

The ACT was at least a long way ahead of Tasmania. Consensual homosexual sex remained illegal in the ACT until 1976. Thankfully, society has progressed since this time, and it is no longer an offence. I am sure that there are people in the ACT who would still remember, or still feel distress, that their sexuality was criminalised.

Historical laws like this can have a lasting impact and cause lasting suffering. On top of this, there is of course a formal legacy of these offences, as people convicted will

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