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Australian Government Likely World’s First to Apologize for Jailing Gays

Daniel Andrews

The premier of the state of Victoria officially said he and his government were sorry for all those arrested and charged under the state’s anti-sodomy laws.

In what might be a world first, the leader of an Australian state has apologized for the arrests and imprisonment of gay men under historical anti-sodomy laws.

Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews expressed his regret for the laws, which criminalized "buggery" by up to 15 years in prison. The laws were repealed in 1981.

"These laws not only punished homosexual acts," he said. "They published homosexual thought. They had no place in a liberal democracy, and they have no place anywhere. The Victorian government and Victorian parliament were at fault, and for this, we are sorry."

Andrews's government also allows gay men who were convicted under the law to have their records expunged.

Other countries have taken steps to address historic convictions of gay men under anti-sodomy laws. Germany recently announced an effort to overturn convictions of gay men under similar laws--including laws used to imprison gay men during the Holocaust.

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