Never A Crime

The historic oppression of gay and bisexual men by law and society sought to create a sense of shame around homosexuality. In 1981 this oppression shifted in Victoria when legislative reforms saw consensual homosexual sex decriminalized; and then again in 2015 when the State Government implemented a scheme to expunge historical convictions for homosexual sex.

While legislative reform is essential, there is also a need to heal the stigma, hurt, shame and losses these laws created. A process of healing began in 2016, when Premier Daniel Andrews made an apology in State Parliament for past injustices (read the apology here).

While these reforms are significant – there is still a sense of shame around homosexuality. The Never a Crime project will address this shame by inviting gay and bisexual men to share their stories and build a sense of Pride in who they are – because Pride is the opposite of shame.

Pride workshop – 26 Nov 2017

On 26 November 2017, we will be hosting a workshop for younger, middle and mature aged gay and bisexual men. Please join us in building Pride that empowers gay and bisexual elders to share their stories – and supports those applying to have their criminal conviction expunged. The workshop has two parts:

  1. Making masks that represent history, resilience and pride (all masks and materials supplied)
  2. Writing some words that explore:
  • What does pride mean to you?
  • What is your message to gay and bisexual elders who were unjustly charged?
  • What changes in attitudes to gay and bisexual men have you noticed in your life time?

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: You will be invited to have your photograph taken with your mask. Your photograph and message to gay and bisexual elders will be exhibited as part of the Midsumma Festival 2018.

PRIVACY: You can choose remain anonymous. Your photograph can be full face, covered or cropped – you choose.

  • WHERE: Kathleen Syme Library, 251 Faraday St, Carlton VIC 3053
  • WHEN: Sunday 26 November 2017 (2pm-4pm)
  • RSVP: essential Project Coordinator: Dr Catherine Barrett: 0429582237|

The apology

In May 2015 Premier Daniel Andrews issued a formal apology in State Parliament to gay men for past injustices – making Victoria the first state to apologise. You can view the apology below – courtesy of ABC News.

Below are a series of photos taken from the apology in State Parliament, which was open to the general public, and an extract from the apology.

The Expungement Scheme

In September 2015 a new scheme was implemented in Victoria to expunge historical convictions for homosexual activity that would not be a criminal offence today. Under the scheme, an individual (or the appropriate representative of a deceased person) can make a confidential application to the Secretary of the Department of Justice and Regulation to have their conviction or finding of guilt for an historical homosexual offence expunged. This application can be made free of charge. For more information about the Scheme go to the Department of Justice and Regulations webpage.

Human Rights Law Centre – here to help

Lee, Jamie and Anna from the Human Rights Law Centre presenting at a conference about their work on the Expungement Scheme.

The Human Rights Law Centre is a wonderful organisation that has set up an Expungement Legal Service to help people who work through the process of Expungement. If you have or know someone who has a historic finding of guilt or conviction for homosexual activity, the Expungement Legal Service can help: advise you on the expungement scheme (including if you are eligible to apply); assist you to prepare your application and relevant paperwork; and support you through the expungement process.

The Expungement Legal Service provides free and confidential legal help to anyone affected by these laws in any state or territory in Australia. The team is staffed by LGBTIQ identifying lawyers and includes volunteer lawyer Jamie Gardiner who has personal experience of the climate and police attitudes before the old laws were repealed. For more information go to the HRLC webpage on Expungement by clicking here.

The historical treatment of gay and bisexual men

The Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives are part of the project team and will provide archival material for the project – to help educate others who are unaware of the historical experiences of gay and bisexual men.

More information

If you would like more information about this project please contact the project coordinator Dr Catherine Barrett by hone: 0429 582 237 or email at:

Project partners

The pilot is coordinated by Dr Catherine Barrett, Director of Alice’s Garage and Lisa White – the Social Photographer. The project patron is Ro Allen, Gender and Sexuality Commissioner. The project will be conducted in partnership with key stakeholders including: The Human Rights Law Centre; Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives; Switchboard Victoria; Midsumma Festival; Vintage Men; and the Victorian AIDS Council. A project advisory group with representatives from these organisations is overseeing the project.